food justice

Congregations Tend the Soil and the Soul with Vegetable Gardens

Photo courtesy Robert Nevel/KAM

Volunteers harvest vegetables at KAM Isaiah Israel in Chicago. Photo courtesy Robert Nevel/KAM

The Rev. Morris G. Henderson wasn’t sure what do with a vacant city block of land behind his 31st Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. The church had purchased the plots, but didn’t have the funding to build a planned family life center.

Then, he had a vision.

“Why not build a garden and people can learn to be self-sufficient and we can grow food?” Henderson said.

With an 80-year-old congregant heading the project, the congregation planted its first garden in 2008: watermelons, tomatoes, okra, squash, strawberries, and blueberries.

By the second year, even after the gardening chief had passed away, congregants were getting guidance from the Virginia Cooperative Extension; this year, the church has at least two dozen raised beds, with the bulk of the harvest used for the church’s Monday-Friday soup kitchen.

Supreme Court Upholds Monsato Genetically Modified Soybeans’ Patent

The Supreme Court ruled that farmers must pay Monsanto every time they plant the company’s genetically modified soybeans. Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman argued he was not violating the patent because the soybeans self-replicate. The justices felt "Bowman’s practices threatened the incentive for invention that is at the heart of patent law." Bowman was ordered to pay $85,000 to Monsato. This case could have broader implication on patent protections for vaccines and other products that self-replicate. The Washington Post reports:

If someone is able to copy a patented product simply by planting it and collecting its progeny, “a patent would plummet in value after the first sale of the first item containing the invention,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote. “And that would result in less incentive for innovation than Congress wanted.”

Read more here.

Minister Ejected From Florida Supermarket for Support of Farmworker Justice

Photo via Interfaith Action of SW Florida

Photo via Interfaith Action of SW Florida

We have reached that point in the year when the images we are inundated with show off variations on a theme: the Norman Rockwell-esque holiday gathering. They are a testament to the ability of advertising to tug on our heartstrings as the large, joyful family sits down to a table lavishly set with the antique china, candles twinkling, and a feast spread as the Christmas meal in all its glory looms and the joy and generosity of the season is palpable.

Here in Florida, the grocery store chain Publix is as ubiquitous to holiday celebrations as pie. Publix has been a part of our Christmas celebrations for generations and yet this year impromptu runs to the family-owned grocer will simply not be an option for the Reverend Clay Thomas, or for those who stand with him. 

As it turns out, earlier this year Reverend Thomas was ejected and then banned from a Sarasota, Fla., Publix

His crime?

He supports the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).