This week the local farmers market, that my family and I faithfully attend, was struck with some unexpected sad news. A meat and eggs vendor named Ed experienced a sudden massive heart attack and passed away at his home. When we arrived at the market expecting to see him and his wife at their regular spot, all that stood there was a simple memorial table with a sign passing on the tragic news.
The mix of emotions that followed was something that we had never expected or even put much thought to. How is one supposed to feel and react when your food producer, your farmer, passes away? Of course we were sad, we had deep sympathy for Ed’s wife and family and could even sense a shared somber feeling in the space, as the vendors all had to come to terms of loosing someone who was a vital part to the market family.
On the other hand, I think those feelings are natural and speak to an importance about food justice and sustainability. If a farmer producing food for the commercial grocery chains were to die, rarely if ever, would the average consumer know about it! When we give thanks for our meals we often tell our children where that food came from and we can also give thanks for the people who helped provide that food. Here too, we were able to talk with our kids about what happened to Ed and how God is ultimately the one who provides and farmers are co-creators or stewards of the land and gifts He has given them.
God created us in a community of sharing and codependence and we were able to acknowledge and reflect on our dependence of the local farmers for the food that sustains us each day. Like other situations of injustice, when one suffers or experiences loss, we all do and we must rely on God’s grace and providence to give us what we all need to keep going and keep serving those most in need.
Our farmer Ed had a wealth of knowledge, of beautiful land, of family and as John Chrysostom states, “… wealth is not a possession, it is not property; it is a loan for use.” Ed used that wealth to earn a living for his family, to contribute to the sustainability of healthy food in his community and to show the care and love to others that he used to produce really good tasting food.
The Kingdom of God is reflected in the ways we live our lives and the life of a farmer, with ambitions for producing local healthy food, for sustaining his family, his practice, his part of creation are all qualities that reflect God’s character well. It is a witness to acknowledging that the food he made connected us all in ways that then implies our responsibilities to care for each other in the ways we can, as equals.
Daniel Groody points out that “…life is finite, and ultimately all of us will be judged by how we live our lives and use what is entrusted to us.” So in that, let us be reminded that our actions should be in line with what we believe and if we believe we are all children of God, called to love him and our neighbors, may we do so to the point of standing with them, sharing food with them and grieving with them in times of loss. Our prayer is for the continued flourishing of Ed’s farm and the renewal of his family as they continue their faithful stewardship of the land God has blessed them with. We will continue to be there supporting them with our patronage and our relationship with them as I know we will see them very soon, as the Sun rises again, on another Saturday morning.
Jesse Edgington - NADC consultant
Classis Alberta North