Faith and Urban Farms


Riet Schumack (middle) works at an urban farm
Photo by Mode Shift Move Together via Flickr

Liz Waid and Bruce Gulland look at organizations that work for justice by growing food. These organizations believe they bring life to areas that were dead.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Bruce Gulland. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3  

“Healthy food is difficult to get around here. It is easier to get a gun here than green lettuce. What we want to do is change that.”

Voice 1  

These words were spoken by Joel Valentin in a video by Odyssey Networks. Valentin lives in the city of Philadelphia in the United States. He works with the organization The Simple Way. This organization lives with and serves the poor. They fight for social justice in their community in Philadelphia. One of the ways The Simple Way brings change is through growing food in their city.

Voice 2  

Many cities around the world are encouraging their people to grow food. Urban farms can create jobs, reduce food waste, and make cities more beautiful. They also improve the control people have over their food supply. But there is also another reason why some people want to grow food in urban areas: faith. For many people, growing food in cities is a way they show their love for God and other people. The Simple Way is one of the many Christian organizations using urban farms to bring change. Today’s Spotlight is on faith-based urban farms.

Voice 1  

One reason people of faith grow food is to bring peace. Fred Bahnson is a professor at Wake Forest, a Christian university in the United States. Bahnson wants to help people understand the connection between food and faith. Bahnson believes that growing food is a way of obeying God’s plan for human life. It connects people to the earth, and it also helps bring peace. He said,

Voice 4  

“Around the country right now there is a sort of food and faith movement. We see growing food and seeking peace as activities that go together.”

Voice 2  

Prophets in the Christian Bible even talk about farming as part of God’s plan for peace for humans. The book of Isaiah says,

Voice 5  

“Nations will beat their swords into tools to farm the land. They will change their weapons into instruments that care for trees. Nation will no longer fight against nation. They will not train for war anymore.” [Isaiah 2:4]

Voice 1  

So how can growing food create peace? Many Christians believe that peace comes through justice. And in this case, justice begins with fixing food deserts. Deserts are places with very little rain and almost no green plant growth. Food deserts are places where it is difficult to buy good quality fresh food for a low price. Food deserts are often located in places like large cities.

Voice 2  

Food deserts are most often in poor areas. In places like these, the food does not cost much money. But it is not good for your body. Stores that sell fresh food such as fruit and vegetables can make more money in areas where wealthy people live. So they move out of poor areas. This means that the only stores left are convenience stores. This kind of store sells food that contains chemicals and high amounts of fat and salt. It is not fresh. People who live in food deserts have higher rates of disease and health problems. Many people see this situation as unjust.

Voice 1  

Shane Claiborne is a part of The Simple Way. He said in an Odyssey Network video that he noticed a big problem with malnutrition in his community. People in the area were not getting enough healthy food. The convenience stores were selling food that had no healthy value. So, The Simple Way began to grow food as a part of their work of peace and justice. Claiborne said,

Voice 6  

“Every morning we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ That’s what Jesus taught us to pray. Not ‘my’ daily bread, but ‘our’ daily bread - for the whole world to have enough to eat.”

Voice 2  

The Simple Way plants gardens that grow fresh fruit and vegetables for the area. They provide healthy food. They bring work instead of guns and violence. This helps bring peace and justice to food deserts.

Voice 1  

But growing food in cities also has a deeper meaning of faith. Organizations like The Simple Way start with empty places. Then they fill them with good things. Claiborne said,

Voice 6  

“We talk a lot about doing resurrection. We bring dead things to life. We make ugly things beautiful. We turn empty spaces into gardens.”

Voice 2  

Christians believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. They believe that bringing life from death is God’s plan for humans. Christian communities in Detroit are also doing this. Detroit is a US city that has experienced a lot of economic death. Detroit used to be a major center for making goods. In the last part of the 20th century, many factories closed. People moved away to find work. The city was left with hundreds of thousands of empty buildings and empty places - dead spaces.

Voice 1  

Riet Schumack grew up in the country of Holland. She dreamed of becoming a farmer. When she and her family moved to the city of Detroit in the US, this dream seemed dead. But Schumack believes that God calls people to be a part of creating and bringing life. In 2009, Schumack started a not-for-profit organization in Detroit. The organization cleans up empty urban spaces and plants farms. By 2013, they had planted more than 50 community gardens. Many children in the area work in the gardens and learn to grow food. They also sell their food at markets. Schumack believes that urban farms are part of God’s work of bringing life out of death.

Voice 2  

Nathan Pfeifer is a student at Wake Forest - the Christian university we talked about at the beginning of this program. He plans to be a Christian leader. At the university, he is studying how food influences communities. He described why food is so important to his Christian faith.

Voice 7  

"Food is the way we celebrate. It is the way we connect and the way we care for each other. It is at the spiritual and moral center of faith communities to help hungry people.”

Voice 1

Are there hungry people in your community? Who helps these people get food? Do people of faith work in your community? Tell us about your experiences. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook - at facebook.com/SpotlightRadio.

Voice 2  

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Bruce Gulland. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Faith and Urban Farms’.

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Are there faith groups in your area that feed hungry people? What do you think about their work?

Comments


Alverindo's avatar
Alverindo
said on April 03, 2017

It is an interesting program.

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kenhieuloilam
said on April 06, 2017

Food is important to our health. We need healthy food every day. Environment such as air, water, etc. is also important to our health. We need fresh and unpolluted environment. We love beautiful good things. We respect beautiful good things. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We sacrifice for beautiful good things. We are happy when we have beautiful good things. We respect beautiful good things. We are responsible to life and everyone. We sacrifice for beautiful good things.

Alverindo's avatar
Alverindo
said on April 06, 2017

kenhieuloilam you said all. Beautiful words.
We need to do the best for us and our children.

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Honneur
said on April 25, 2018

Thank you for help me improve my English.

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Dela
said on April 28, 2018

Nowadays, many poor, hungry people still live in various places around the world, people who need urgently be provided with healthy, nutrious, fresh food. Therefore founding urban farms appears as really needful, deserving activity, members of organizations like The Simple Way grow fresh fruit and vegetables for the area in the community gardens, they change dead spaces into places of life making ugly things beautiful, bringing a message of faith, peace and justice to people. No doubt, all poor people around the world need faith, work and food instead of attack of weapons, violence. Hopefully, no one in the world will be forced to live in poorness, starvation and desperation in near future!
Thanks Spotlight for sharing such excellent, important issue!
Greetings’