[Editor’s Note: When God created the world, he saw that “it was good.” In this series, we want to explore how our faith in Jesus helps us celebrate and enjoy what’s good in creation––but also work as stewards to help it thrive to its fullest potential. Caring for our planet, including plants and animals, fungi and microbes, ecosystems and people, is a high calling from God––a calling in which we can engage out of love and not fear. The gospel gives us hope that what is broken can be restored, and even now, we can enjoy what has been given to us. Join us as we #celebratecreation.]

Writing and photos by Deb.

As a child of immigrant parents, I experienced the reality of tight budgets. I remember the weekly rhythm of scouring advertisements from grocery stores with my mom, tracking which items were a good deal. I knew at a very young age the lowest price our local grocery would mark down a pound of chicken. I carried this budget-conscious mindset forward when I started to buy my own groceries. Naturally, there was a section I never bought anything from, and in which I didn’t even browse for “enjoy by tonight” stickers: the organic section. I couldn’t afford it, even if it was nearing decay. 

Caption: Canning used to be only about saving money for me, but now it’s also about preserving foods when they’re at their peak.

When I overheard conversations about the climate crisis and how food production is a critical factor, I admit, my reaction for years was, Oh, that’s not something I can do much about. That’s something food producers need to change, something big decision-makers need to own. I excused myself from the solution because I couldn’t afford organic food. Someone else was responsible, not me. Then I started to notice that my grocery bill was climbing. Groceries were getting more expensive, even with my budget-conscious purchasing practices.

Caption: A food stand at the entrance of our CSA farm, stocked with extra vegetables and eggs for the public to purchase.

Maybe it was the constant media buzz about the climate crisis that started to change me. People were talking about taking small and practical steps, like eating less meat, buying local, and wasting less food. Or maybe it was a growing sense of, Wait, how am I taking care of God’s planet? Maybe it was the influence of friends who are avid gardeners. My money-saving self is definitely drawn to their “I just grow my own food” mantra. But it was definitely a friend telling me she was part of a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) program—and that it wasn’t that much more expensive than grocery prices.

Caption: I visited our CSA farm in the spring (pre-COVID) and saw the salad greens growing.

After researching CSA options in my province, I learned that there were various options that could fit my needs, and were indeed comparable to how much I was already spending at the grocery store. Importantly, it was a tangible step that I could take towards caring for God’s planet and creation. The CSA I joined grows many certified organic crops, chosen based on what can grow in their location, and offered only when they are in season, which increases sustainability. And they integrate animals into their soil care and crop rotation, which not only provides natural fertilizers, but allows these animals to live healthy lives. I have learned over the years from my CSA partnership that what they do reflects a philosophy of caring for the earth––protecting and honouring the soil, water, air, and biodiversity, while caring for people and community.

Caption: She was affectionately named “Boobie” by the family that owns our CSA farm.

I signed up to receive a weekly farm box with local, sustainable, in-season, and organic vegetables, meat, and eggs, committing to a six-month trial. I’ll be honest, it was a steep learning curve at the beginning. Each week, I would carry home this box packed with vegetables I’d take a hard pass on in the grocery store. I simply had no idea what to do with a kohlrabi, or what a “celeriac” was, not to mention its root. But there were also lots of vegetables and fruits that I was familiar with, and my eyes feasted with delight on the vibrant colours and textures. At first, the weekly meat portion struck me as meagre, but the eggs—wow—they have always been brilliant and orange and so tasty.

Caption: One of our favourite ways to enjoy the winter vegetables—roasting them with light olive oil, salt and pepper, and a bit of dried herb seasoning.

I spent the next six months receiving box after box, committing myself to not wasting food, researching recipes, and trying (and sometimes failing) new dishes. I learned that good food tastes so good. A carrot that comes from good soil tastes more … carrot-y. I learned that the “meagre” meat portions from healthy animals are more filling and satisfying, so they aren’t meagre anymore. I learned that fruit and vegetables grown in season are full of flavour. I learned that I could be connected to the farmers that grow and raise the food I have the honour of receiving. I learned that my food budget could afford this new change.

Caption: To extend the growing season, lots of growth happens in tunnels during spring and fall.

Last summer, I went to visit my CSA farm. I went home with a gift of a few luffa gourd seedlings, to try growing them in my own little patch of dirt. I spent all summer and well into the fall watering, fertilizing, and trellising. I sat watching bees pollinate the flowers, I clapped in delight when little gourds started budding, and at the end of the season, I harvested two luffas. One successfully matured enough to become a usable sponge. The gift of watching something grow and mature deeply encouraged me, as someone who is also on my own journey of growth. I imagined God being my gardener, my farmer, my cheerleader, my nurturer—patiently tending, and rejoicing over my growth. Yep, I totally cried in the garden many times, thinking about God’s goodness over me.

Caption: Caught an aerial view of our CSA farm, nestled near the Bay of Fundy, when the leaves were turning red and harvest was in full force.

I imagined God being my gardener, my farmer, my cheerleader, my nurturer—patiently tending, and rejoicing over my growth.

It’s been over two years since I became a CSA member, and it has changed me. My relationship with food has grown. The way I celebrate creation has deepened. My engagement with a community that cares for soil, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and animals has gifted me with immense gratitude and responsibility. 

If you come over for a meal, you will definitely hear me talk about where the food came from. Because I receive what I eat as a gift from God, I’ll delight in sharing with you what he’s given.

Caption: After so many years of committing to CSA farm box shares, I still haven’t figured out recipes to love rutabaga—hidden at the bottom of this box.
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