Flourishing in Place

Written by
Mike Janz
Published on
April 20, 2022 at 3:22:00 PM PDT April 20, 2022 at 3:22:00 PM PDTth, April 20, 2022 at 3:22:00 PM PDT
Dairy cows help replenish the soil with their nutrient-rich dung, enabling farmers like Joseph to grow abundant veggie gardens.

Canadians feel the seasons, no matter where in our massive country we live. But imagine this—attempting to judge the seasons by the produce department at your local supermarket. You’d be led to think we all lived in a perpetual summer. Strawberries in January? No problem! What about tomatoes, red peppers, or cucumbers in February? Fill your shopping cart!

This perpetual food abundance, however, is not the experience of those in FH partner communities. Most folks in Sasiga (Ethiopia), Santa Avelina (Guatemala), or Ukhia (Bangladesh) only have access to the food that they or their neighbours can grow.

And as climate change brings increased extreme weather, new plant diseases, and general food uncertainty, these long-known agricultural rhythms have decreased in dependability.

While we may feel inconvenienced by a temporary shortage of ripe bananas or complain about an increase in the price of our beloved avocado, this is likely to feel more related to personal preference than to creation. 

But what if your livelihood in all aspects is placebound, tied to the land on which you and your ancestors have always lived, and this land is failing you more often? Your traditional farming methods no longer result in a harvest sufficient to feed your family and sell at market. The annual rains that have always come no longer arrive to water your fields.

FH partner communities around the world are confronted with questions of sustainability in relationship to the land on a daily basis. This is one reason why FH puts a strong livelihoods emphasis on helping farmers and families increase agricultural effectiveness, while learning together to love creation and the Creator.

The Habonimana family from Kabarore, Burundi knows the gifts of reconnecting with the Creator.

Through FH workshops, they adopted small-scale, modern farming technologies (like drip irrigation), sustainable farming practices, making heat compost, digging terraces, and other techniques promoted by FH.

“Thanks to trainings I received, I was able to improve agricultural and health practices.” — Joseph

The impact of FH engagement for Joseph’s family goes beyond the fields they farm. “When we started being involved with FH, our life changed a lot.” Family members are sick less often, and together, they are planning new income generating projects. 

Joseph also told us,

“Spiritually, we do everything by asking first God to bless us and by seeking to be faithful to God and to our neighbours.”

Joseph’s family is experiencing Christ reconciling all things (Col. 1:20). As the land is restored through healthy farming practices, its renewal is feeding them with more than food! Their bodies and their relationships are healthier, and they have new dreams.

Joseph and Marie-Rose’s family are healthier, more hopeful, and increasingly engaged with their neighbours as a result of FH’s presence and agricultural training in their community.

Joseph went on to share,

“Before, my family was living on its own and not open to the other community members...Now our neighbours, friends, and relatives see us as role models. Our involvement with FH is helping other community members to change.”

This is deep, sustainable, and holistic alleviation of poverty.

As Brian Fikkert and Kelly Kapic contend in Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream, “Poverty alleviation is fundamentally about transformation—transformation of whole people, body, mind, will, affections, and relationships.”

“Know your farmer, know your food” is a popular farmer’s market movement saying. Isn’t it strange to know more about our favourite athlete or musician than we do about the people who grow the food we put in our bodies? You probably know more about Joseph now than you do about the farmer that grew the apple you ate this morning!

One step toward reconnecting to our roots, literally, can start with practicing presence to those who feed us here at home. Investing time to know a farmer may provide new insights into what it takes to grow your food, how climate affects farming, or you may just make a new friend. This can be a simple step toward the restoration of our relationship with creation, a relationship that the Bible speaks of from back in Adam and Eve’s first days in the Garden to the vision of a restored earth in the book of Revelation.

You see, FH isn’t simply trying to end hunger.

The sustainable change that we work tirelessly to help partner communities experience is about so much more than food, it is about restoration of all that is broken within creation.

We want to help vulnerable families and communities, and Canadians as well, tap into what is already there. There is an abundance in creation that has been and is there, literally planted under all of our feet, waiting to be cultivated and shared.

Reconciliation to Creation:

FH Canada believes that poverty isn’t just a lack of material things. Poverty is about broken relationships with God, self, others, and creation—and it affects all of us!

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