Faith, food and community

Participants of a recent food security learning exchange sponsored by the diocese of Calgary, PWRDF and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Photo: Contributed
Participants of a recent food security learning exchange sponsored by the diocese of Calgary, PWRDF and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Photo: Contributed
Published September 8, 2015

Under smoke-choked skies and winds that were carrying the Washington state wildfire residue over southern Alberta, a group gathered August 27-29 at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Calgary to explore, discuss and observe solutions to food scarcity, food security and food sovereignty.

Sponsored by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the diocese of Calgary, Sharing Bread: A food security learning exchange took attendees on field trips to see in action the recommended Christian solutions to food issues, including the St. Barnabas community garden, located just outside the city’s downtown core.

Suzanne Rumsey, PWRDF public engagement co-ordinator, noted that PWRDF-the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development arm-has been supporting projects that help people grow and have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. For example, in Tanzania, seed banks supply seed and train local farmers with the understanding that they will give 20% of harvested seeds back to their community.

Rod Olson emphasized the importance of creation care, partnering and deeply experiencing God through creation, which gave the event its theological grounding. “Work in the dirt. Plant a garden and be reminded of humanity’s relationship to the earth. The Lord God formed man /adam/ from the dust of the ground /adama/ (Gen 2:7). Human-humus,” said Olson, who is with Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. “Live simply. The vitality of the earth is in part dependent on living lives that avoid wastefulness and overconsumption and pollution…Rehearse the concept of enough. Our finite earth will benefit as more of us learn what enough is-how to live with it, eat it, own it, purchase it, use it.”

The group, which included participants from nine diocesan parishes and members of the diocese of British Columbia, also visited the Bergen Farmers’ Market where, according to Gerald Ingeveld, small producers are filling a niche for those who want to know about the food they are buying. Ingeveld, a Bergen rancher and Anglican lay minister in Sundre, a town in central Alberta, is passionate and realistic about being an agricultural producer in a world that struggles with food security.

Can the organic/natural/small-holder farmer feed the world?, asked the participants. No, said Ingeveld, this type of agriculture is intense, hands-on and more expensive for the consumer. “Globally, we need to continue to advance with technology to create better adaptation, higher yields and improved nutrition, if we are to keep up with and surpass world hunger.”

Jerremie and Rita Clyde, members of St. James Anglican Church in Calgary, hosted a delicious meal on their Little Loaves Farm, described on their website as “a faith-based farm located in the foothills of the Alberta Rockies.” The meat in the venison barley soup was sourced less than a half mile from where it was eaten.

A conference highlight for Jerremie was the community event where the panel contrasted local and global food security. “I am struck with how similar the solutions are. In both cases it seems small-scale agriculture that cares for God’s creation has the best chance to really feed people, give them dignity and a chance to grow closer to God,” he said.

Ethan Borlé, of St. Leonard’s on the Hill in Red Deer, was inspired by the food-raising examples in the urban environment, including being “more hands on in my food preparation and to add more garden space on my property.” While these may be symbolic gestures that represent “taking control of what I eat,” he said, this can also “lead to other positive changes such as sharing excess harvest with friends and family or donating to the local food bank.”





  • Tim Christison

    Tim Christison is a long time member of the Anglican Church of Canada and is a freelance writer and editor based in Calgary.

Related Posts

Skip to content