How can a few people standing in an Indiana farm field make a global impact?
God has a way of making things happen. We recently hosted our Farming God’s Way (FGW) conference here at Lamb Farms. This is the third year we’ve held the event and also the third year that Grant Dryden of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the founder of Farming God’s Way, has led the conference.
Farming God’s Way is what we teach as part of our AgriStewards division and each year our event has grown. This time around, we had 75 attendees from 12 different US states. The participants are traveling to 25 different countries around the world to reach subsistence farmers and teach them how to improve their soil and farming practices, while learning about the gospel.
No matter what country or climate, the principles of FGW focus on helping farmers improve their farming methods so they can not only feed their family, but also help their communities. We meet them where they are, with the crops they already grow rather than try to change their food crops or culture.
The process isn’t a quick one either, it usually takes a few years of follow up for farmers to see the results and influence others around them. We start with planting a demonstration garden during their dry season so they can watch the plot grow and be ready to adopt the same practices once their growing season begins.
One of the most difficult principles for the farmers is when they are told not to plow. Most people the world over think you have to plow before you plant. Instead, we teach them that plowing leaves the soil exposed to sun, erosion and nutrient depletion. By teaching them no-till methods and how to use compost, their crops will improve.
FGW Works Locally Too
A person doesn’t have to go to the far reaches of the world to help improve conditions. Locally, we have partnered with Str8Up, an Indianapolis-based youth ministry that added urban gardening to their summer day camp activities.
The organization has about 20 acres in the city that was overrun with weeds and growth. AgriStewards helped clear the ground and plant the garden. The camp participants had not been exposed to farming or gardening and didn’t know where their food came from.
“Many kids were absolutely amazed how you could put a seed in the ground and get food,” said Brian Smith, head of AgriStewards. Growing everything from kale and collard greens to sweet corn and watermelons, the garden provided the campers the opportunity to learn about marketing, how to sell the produce and even earn a little money for their efforts.
This camp experience and the FGW programs throughout the globe don’t just improve other’s lives with a few extra vegetables. People new to the program are often surprised to learn how closely physical poverty and spiritual poverty are intertwined. Where there is physical poverty there is also spiritual poverty.
There is much to be found about farming in biblical principles. “This garden is a great illustration of what God can do in someone’s life,” says Smith. “If it’s in disarray and not productive, God can come in and restore order through his presence. The garden provided some great teachable moments.”
While talking with Grant before our conference, he came up with a phrase that sums up our mission: “AgriStewards is a catalyst for godly influence in agriculture.” We are proud to be that catalyst and it is our hope that we can get farmers to think about the influence they have and use that to spread the gospel.
Str8Up and AgriStewards are already making plans for next year’s garden project. If you’d like to be a volunteer, contact Brian Smith here at AgriStewards: http://agristewards.org/contact-form
For more information about Farming God’s Way visit: http://www.farming-gods-way.org/home.htm