When was the last time you thanked a farmer?

Categories: Guest Views

One way we can help answer Pope Francis’ call to care for the environment is by supporting the farmers who are good stewards of the land

June 6, 2014, edition
By Joe Towalski

During a recent audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis warned about the dangers of pollution and the importance of safeguarding creation as a gift from God.

14afarmFew people are as aware of that gift and the need to treat it with respect as our nation’s farmers, who rely on the land, water and other resources to make a living and grow the food that sustains families locally and around the world. That includes nearly 75,000 farmers right here in Minnesota.

But, many of us living in cities and suburbs don’t know much about those farmers, how the food they produce gets to our tables and why we should care about the process used to get it there.

Farmers today face a host of financial, technological and environmental challenges. Some struggle under government and economic policies that aren’t always favorable to smaller, family-owned operations.

They must weigh the rewards and risks of using genetically modified organisms and other fast-developing technologies.

All of them face the threat posed by long-term climate change and the vagaries of the weather during any given growing season.

That’s one reason many dioceses around the country hold an annual rural life celebration.

Mark your calendar

This year the Rural Life Celebration in the Diocese of St. Cloud will be hosted by Christ Our Light parishes in Princeton/Zimmerman on the Mark and Brenda Winkelman family farm near Milaca. Mass will begin at 11 a.m. with Bishop Donald Kettler presiding, followed by lunch and entertainment.

It’s an awareness-building event and an opportunity to give thanks for the men and women who till the land, raise the livestock and help sustain rural communities and the local church. And, it’s an opportunity for those in the diocese to celebrate the International Year of the Family Farmer.

Attending the event is a wonderful way to show your prayerful support and gratitude for the contributions made by farmers and the small towns where they live.

But, it’s just a start.

Learn more

There are many good resources for learning more about agriculture and environmental stewardship the other 364 days of the year, including Catholic Rural Life, a national organization founded 91 years ago to serve the rural Church.

CRL is grounded in Catholic social teaching, and one of its mantras is that “eating is a moral act” — meaning that food should be produced in ways that are good for the earth, good for consumers and good for farmers and other agricultural workers.

To support food systems that are sustainable, fair and just, CRL recommends getting to know local farmers by visiting farmers’ markets, buying Fair Trade products or purchasing a share in a community-supported agriculture venture.

One way we can help answer Pope Francis’ call to care for the environment is by supporting the farmers in our area who are good stewards of the land. It’s one important way to show that we all, no matter where we live, appreciate the gift of creation that God has given us.

Joe Towalski is the incoming director of communications for the St. Cloud Diocese and editor of The Visitor.