Veggies for Jesus

It's a partnership that reads like a parable: Invest some talents around springtime, trust the farmer to sow good seed, then bring home the harvest all summer long. Inspired by the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, churches across the country are replacing the "c" with "congregation," preaching food-system justice and creation care, providing a market for local family farms, and leaving the sanctuary on Sunday mornings with a week's worth of veggies.

Teresa Oliver farms near the Flint Hills in Burlingame, Kansas, and drives to Grace Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Topeka every week. She arranges the bounty of Prairie Rose Farm buffet-style, along with canned goods, fresh bread, and homemade soap. Twenty-five church and community members pay $12 a week to fill their bags. A weekly newsletter describes the day the cow got out or offers a recipe for rhubarb pie. In the fall everyone's invited for a potluck and farm tour.

Margaret Pennings and Dan Guenthner grow 55 different vegetables, fruits, and herbs on the bluffs overlooking the Saint Croix river near Osceola, Wisconsin. A 14-year-old CSA that began with friends at Grace University Lutheran Church has expanded to 220 shares distributed weekly to 11 drop-off sites in the driveways of members' homes. Common Harvest Farm's 40 acres were purchased by the CSA as a conservation easement, and when Margaret and Dan invested to diversify the farm, some members paid up-front for seven years of $450 shares. "Imagine them trusting us for that long!" says Margaret. "When we despair about the world, we look to our members."

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2003
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