ST. PAUL, Minn. – Chris Thompson, academic dean at the St. Paul Seminary and a board member of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, says he would like to see all Catholic universities teach a course in agriculture to help Catholics understand their need to have a connection to the land and the environment.
In an interview with The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, he offered these tips to help families and parishes cultivate a deeper appreciation for agriculture and God’s creation.
For individuals and families:
– Start a backyard garden. “Learn with your children the experience of raising food, even if it’s at a modest level. This changes your attitude toward your land.”
– Eat dinner together as a family. “The dinner table is one of the most important pieces of real estate in the Catholic home. … It’s a fantastic place where the human person comes into contact with lower creation in a very intimate way.”
– Bake bread. “Even if it’s no good, you’ll eat it with pride and joy because it’s something you’ve made and it’s something that has expressed the person.”
– Visit a farm or farmers’ market. Meet the people who grow your food.
– Shop mindfully. “If we can illuminate our habits of consumption and really introduce principles of justice and principles of stewardship in our habits of consumption, that would be huge.”
– Purchase local, seasonal food directly from a farmer through a Community Supported Agriculture program. To find one of these farms near you, go to www.localharvest.org/csa/.
– Go for a walk. Encounter God in nature.
– Feature the products of local Catholic organic farmers at parish festivals.
– Develop a partnership between an urban parish and a rural parish.
– Purchase locally produced food for school programs.
– “Ideally, parishes would have little gardens, and the produce would go to the poor, or they would have a Mary garden where they would grow flowers. Get out there and raise something, and you’ll enter into a relationship with the Creator that reaches back to the deepest roots of our faith.”
For more ideas, visit the National Catholic Rural Life Conference website at www.ncrlc.com.