Faith communities are a significant and unique type of agricultural landowner. Several religious organizations contact us with interest in making their land available for agricultural purposes and seek guidance on where to begin. So we are excited to support the FaithLands initiative and learning community to create specialized land access resources.
FaithLands envisions a world where land held by religious institutions is transformed into sustainable gardens and farms for the greater good of the land and all who depend on its bounty for sustenance and well-being. It is a growing national movements that invites faith communities to explore how they might use land they own or acquire to advance land stewardship, food security and social justice.
Faith communities are uniquely positioned in community and in their theological foundations to look at the land they own—the grounds of congregations, synagogues, mosques, and churches, retreat centers and places of worship—and ask,
How could this land be used to honor our spiritual values, and our role in our community? What would be the most just use of this land?
We attended the first FaithLands gathering in 2018; read more on our Blog. There, the idea of a toolkit for faith communities emerged. We were excited to partner with Agrarian Trust and contribute source material. We were the lead writer of several chapters of the newly released toolkit.
The FaithLands Toolkit serves as a guide to support faith communities in considering their respective spiritual traditions linking those core values and beliefs to the land. Through case studies and thoughtful conversation, it offers ways to join a growing number of faith traditions in the production of food, the support of basic human needs, and the building of resilient communities while also promoting equity and justice through the land.
“Toolkit” doesn’t quite capture the beauty of this new guide, nor the evocative call to stewardship and justice. Teachings from multiple traditions invite faith groups to respond to current political, social and environmental challenges in how they use, share and protect their land holdings. From redressing ancestral wrongs to healing the soil to increasing food security, this guide sets a spiritual framework for calls to practical action.
The toolkit is for faith leaders, groups, individuals, and land-seeking farmers interested in partnering with faith communities. The guide includes basic information and guidance about how communities of faith can use their land. Topics include assessing their land holdings, operating their own farming and gardening project, leasing it to farmers and farming groups, selling, donating or returning land, and partnering with other organizations to advance shared ecological, social and economic justice values.
It also provides suggestions on how faith communities can support farmers and farming.