Pastor conducts 'growing' ministry to help farmers
8/11/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
A UMTV video report of this story, "That's My Farmer," is available at www.umtv.org.
A UMNS Feature
By Nancye Willis*
Support your local farmer, the Rev. John Pitney tells his
congregation in Eugene, Ore. With family farms becoming more of an
endangered species, his crusade is appreciated by people on both sides
of the field.
More than 50 families in Pitney's congregation at
First United Methodist Church have signed up for a Community Supported
Agriculture program. At the beginning of each growing season, these
community shareholders contract to buy produce directly from local farms
that don't use synthetic pesticides or fertilizer.
"people from 10 churches, including ours," put up about $50,000 per year
to cover the anticipated farming costs. In return, they receive shares
in farm produce.
The 250 consumer families involved in the
program believe they are helping to free farmers from worries about
going further into debt because of weak crops. They also are
reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.
Jane Brolsma, a member of First Church, paid up front for a
season of fresh, locally grown produce. "I like feeling good about my
purchases and how they impact people as well as the planet," she says.
with getting farm-fresh produce, helping to keep family farms and the
local economy afloat, and protecting the soil, water and air, the
program cultivates good, old-fashioned interaction, says farmer Jabrila
Via of Eugene.
"These are the kinds of connections you don't get
doing wholesale. You don't meet the people; the people don't meet you.
So you're building community," she adds.
"The little things that
we do together now, we have to believe that they'll make a difference
for generations," Pitney says. It's a concept he hopes will take root
The idea of Community Supported Agriculture originated
in the 1960s in Switzerland and Japan and was introduced in the United
States in the mid-1980s. More than 400 U.S. farms receive support
through the program.
More information about First United
Methodist Church in Eugene is available at the church's Web site
http://www.eugenefumc.org. Additional information about Community
Supported Agriculture is available at
http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/, a Web site of the U.S. Department of
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*Willis is editor of the Public Information Team at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn.