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The clouds opened up on Wednesday, dropping heavy rain and forcing members of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) to huddle under a thatch roof to meet with Oscar and Maria Zuniga. The couple lives and works on their farm in southeast Belize and are recipients of grant funding from SDOP.
Everyone, regardless of race or background, should be able to eat healthily.
That’s a guiding philosophy of Soul Fire Farm, a farm in New York state with a goal to feed people living in “food apartheid” neighborhoods, a term used to describe areas with little or no access to fresh, healthy food. The Presbyterian Hunger Program was one of the first supporters of the farm, which was started in 2011.
“We grow our food and get it to those who need it most through a weekly doorstep delivery of vegetables and eggs. It goes to people who live in neighborhoods with no access to fresh, healthy food,” said Leah Penniman, co-founder and co-director of the farm. “People pay for food on a sliding scale, depending on their income. We work with many refugee families who receive a fully subsidized food share.”
As I travel around the world and visit farmers and other agricultural partners, my appreciation of farmers and respect for them grows ever stronger. Every day I learn more about what farming represents, not only for farmers but also for all of us as consumers. We depend daily on farmers and farms yet often do not get glimpses of their daily realities or struggles. Many farmers find themselves living in poverty and being affected by hunger. In 2015, three United Nations agencies reported that most of the 795 million people worldwide who don’t get enough to eat are in fact farmers.
There is a farm in New York state with a goal to feed people living in “Food Apartheid” neighborhoods, a term they use to describe areas with little or no access to fresh, healthy food. Soul Fire Farm was started in 2011 thanks to a group of committed individuals who believe everyone, regardless of race or background, should eat healthily.
Rural farmers in India are celebrating the certification of Udaipur’s Gati Village as Rajasthan’s first fully organic farming community. The designation will allow Gati to market its crops and products internationally. Nearly 300 farm families are covered by the designation as they seek to market major crops which include wheat and corn.
Presbyterians from across the country joined more than 150,000 people in Washington, D.C. last weekend for the People’s Climate March. Crowds lined the streets from the Capitol to the White House, ending the march at the Washington Monument. The large demonstration and smaller ones around the country were planned to coincide with the Trump administration’s 100th day in office.
Each year, on a Sunday during Lent, Presbyterians take a day to celebrate the mission and ministry of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP). For nearly 50 years SDOP has helped poor, oppressed and disadvantaged communities by establishing partnerships within those communities to address issues such as mass incarceration, labor and worker rights, clean water and natural resources, youth empowerment and ending the exploitation of immigrants.
A Sierra Leone resident recently said that the drive from Kenema to the Liberian border is like riding six hours inside of a concrete mixer. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegates visiting the region agreed with this assessment after making the trip on the all-dirt road.
One of our planet’s worst earthquakes leveled Managua, Nicaragua, in December 1972. A medical doctor and missionary, Gustavo Parajón, raced to action. Within hours he had mobilized others to feed those left homeless. This ecumenical, Jesus-loving, outward-looking group called itself the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD). Today and for most of its more than 40-year history, CEPAD has helped people feed themselves and avoid the need to emigrate.
“The most significant change brought about through the industrialization of farming and the green revolution in the ’60s is the gradual and insidious alienation of seeds from the farmers. So we don’t have our native seeds and we are almost totally dependent on company seeds, which include hybrid and GM seeds.”