Eat, pray, farm, Manitoba Cooperator, October 10, 2018

posted November 21, 2018

Eat, pray, farm

U.S. churches turn faith lands into food

Many Christian denominations around the world have massive landholdings which can be put to productive use. Kenya’s Catholic Church, for example, made 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) of land available to commercial farming in 2015 to fight hunger.

And decades of declining congregations in the United States offer an opportunity to faith communities interested in farming.

“Western North Carolina is predicted to have 40 per cent of its churches close in the next 10 years because of lack of parishioners,” said Severine von Tscharner Fleming, director of Greenhorns, a non-profit that supports young farmers.

“What will happen to that land?”

Von Tscharner Fleming co-organized the first FaithLands conference last year, bringing together land activists and the faithful to improve the health of both people and the planet.

“These are people who are interested in activating their land portfolio for good… For many of these groups, the answer is food charity, and that’s been a long-standing tradition within the church,” she said.

“But increasingly it’s also a question of food justice, local economic development and environmental stewardship.”

To consolidate this new movement, FaithLands supporters are studying the extent of church-owned properties in the United States, she said.

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