Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Food and Faith: Farmers' markets draw communities together

This past summer our farmers' market started up again after a hiatus of a few years. Until then, I visited farmer’s markets in other towns nearby from time-to-time looking for the locally grown products I didn’t have in my own garden. What a joy to walk among the booths and see the variety of colors and textures that nourish us. And to be able to talk with the people who grew it gave me more confidence that it was raised with love and care so would treat my body.
So when our farmers' market resurrected last year, I volunteered to coordinate a table there for the Garrard County Arts Council. I organized artists to participate in selling their art. I sold my own books a few times and also distributed information about our newly formed arts council. That gave me an opportunity to meet Tom the Honey Man, Lamb Farmer Larry, Virgil of the Gourds and a number of other local people who I had never met before. Yes, I had lived in this community since 1991, but hadn’t talked with any of these folks.

The farmers' market helped me build new ties in my community, strengthening my feeling of belonging in this small town. Community, I believe, is an important part of my faith life. While working on my book, Yes, I Am Catholic, a priest who I interviewed, Bishop William Houck, made a lasting impression on me when he said, “Jesus didn’t call us to follow him as rugged individualists, just me and Jesus. He called all of us to follow him as a community of people who care about one another and who together care about bringing Jesus and his message, his goodness, his forgiveness, his justice, and his service to other people.”

Sharing our gardening and cooking talents, we well as our love or and care for the earth, is one way of doing that.

I look forward to the opening of this year’s farmers' market where I can reconnect with those new friends who I saw only a handful of times throughout the winter. Together, the effort we make to create a better world is much more powerful than any one of us who slogs on alone.

For more information about this Friday’s Bluegrass Food Security Summit, go to

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