Recently, JCF was mentioned in an article that appeared in the Mennonite World Review (Hugh, our director, is Mennonite, and so is Open Door Church, the place this all started). We loved the article (which is here) but really dislike the headline. Because JCF is not a garden.
Don’t get us wrong – we love gardens. We “have” a garden at one of our sites where we will teach you how to grow your own food, so you can control your own food supply. But we chose the name Jackson City Farm intentionally because we are a farm. We grow things for others to eat, not primarily for our own consumption.
But beyond technical definitions, we dislike the term garden for what we are doing here because all too often, the term is dismissive. Church gardens and community gardens are often seen as cute, as precious things that serve as diversions to the very real food crisis that pervades economically disadvantaged communities.
The problem with our current agricultural system isn’t that we have farms. It is that the farms are owned by huge corporations that have a legal mandate to make as much money as possible, and it is not at all clear how they can make billions of dollars and grow diverse, local, chemical-free crops. So they do not.
But farms don’t have to be like that. You can grow food that feeds your neighborhood, your community, your neighbors. You can grow food that is chemical free and grown with care and love. You can grow diverse crops that nurture both families and the environment.
And if enough of us do that, we can feed the world.
To paraphrase Dorothy Day, don’t call us a garden. We don’t want to be dismissed that easily.