That's My Farmer

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  Much of the produce we find in the grocery store is shipped hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles from where it’s grown, and rarely do we know who grew it. That’s one of several reasons small, local farms are almost an endangered species these days. Kim Riemland reports how the faith community in Eugene, Ore., is supporting a program to help keep family farms and the local economy afloat.  
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Jabrila Via says she’s a farmer because she loves to feel in touch with the earth. She knows farming in these times comes with plenty of risk and no guarantees. But the farm she and her husband run with another couple has a little help from the city.

The Rev. John Pitney: “We’ve got people from 10 churches, including ours.”

United Methodist pastor John Pitney has a growing ministry that encourages the faith community in Eugene, Ore., to participate in Community Supported Agriculture. CSA allows consumers to buy directly from local farms that don’t use synthetic pesticides or fertilizer. They “invest” in the farm, and help shoulder the risk of bad weather or poor crops. Congregation member Jane Brolsma paid up front for a season of fresh, locally grown produce.

Jane Brolsma / CSA Participant: “I like feeling good about my purchases and how they impact people as well as the planet.”

Having community shareholders, who pay at the beginning of the season, means farmers don’t have to take out large loans. They don’t worry that a weak crop will send them further into debt. And it cultivates good, old-fashioned interaction.

Jabrila Via / Farmer: “These are the kinds of connections you don’t get doing wholesale. You don’t meet the people; the people don’t meet you. So you’re building community.”

Consumer to farmer: “Well, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate getting to be a part of your farm.”

Pastor Pitney says consumers can make choices that support the local economy; preserve the family farm; and help protect the soil, water and air.

John Pitney / United Methodist Pastor: “The little things that we do together now, we have to believe that they’ll make a difference for generations.”

It’s a concept he hopes will take root and grow.

I’m Kim Riemland reporting.


More than 50 families in Pastor John Pitney’s church have signed up for the Community Supported Agriculture program, along with about 200 more from other area churches. The contributions total around $50,000 per year.