EcoFarm 2015 "There's a place at the table for everybody"
I had the opportunity to work with Amigo Bob Cantisano a few years ago. Amigo is a force for good and stands out as one of the most experienced and influential people in organic farming to date. He authored the first Organic Certification Program when Jerry Brown was in office the first time - he likes to point out that back then the bill was less than ten pages long compared to 4,000 pages presently. Amigo, a ninth generation Californian, coined the term "sustainable agriculture" and has worked tirelessly on his own farm and advising other famers, businesses and universities. Amigo gathered a small group of kindred spirits back in 1981 for the first EcoFarm Conference which today draws more than 2,000 people. Listen to how Amigo describes the Conference, "There's a place at the table for everyone." It's a phrase similar to what I often say around the altar before sharing communion, "Jesus welcomes everyone to his table." After being here at the conference for just two days I see that what unifies people at EcoFarm, and what unifies people in churches is similar as well, whether it's the love of God or the love of the land or both. Being in touch with Nature and working the land has a profound affect on people. There is a sense of radical hospitality, generosity and deep humility present. I'm experiencing this first hand in my conversations. From a farmer named, Laurie, I heard her deep longing to make a difference within the community of the Hopi people who live on a reservation next to her farm in north-eastern California. In another conversation with a veteran farmer named, Wally, I wept over the tender story he told me about almost starving to death during the depression. What brought tears to my eyes (and his) was his retelling of his family's love and utter dependence upon the land and on the family cow for food during this time. Through his tale of hardship and resiliency what moved me was Wally's humility and the love that was present in his family despite the circumstances. A love that comes immediately to the surface eighty years later.
Lastly, I heard applause when Gary Nabhan described the enormous increase in biodiversity from 5,000 species (plants and animals) on the plates of Americans in 1988, to over 20,000 species enjoyed today. These stories and others give me hope that what Margaret Mead said is indeed happening. She said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."