Thursday, January 21, 2016

Nano Farms

It's always a little bit iffy when we pray at our Wednesday Novena for a just distribution of the earth's wealth.  The word 'distribution' leads one's thoughts possibly to 're-distribution' which leads one's thoughts possibly to think of the Church's often politicized social justice ministries that lead one's thoughts possibly to Socialist ideologies.  Are we asking for a just distribution of the earth's wealth or for a re-distribution of people's individual wealth? I admit to muttering that intention half-heartedly.

Here, however, is a ray of sunshine in a Catholic approach to poverty.  A priest has seen fit to cash in on, if you will, that faddish business of sustainable agriculture, eating local, farm to table and farm to fork and so on and on with Nano Farms USA.

Father Larry Goode is the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in East Palo Alto, a small and historically low-income city in the San Francisco Bay area. Recently, Fr. Goode watched as big tech companies – Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – bought up most of the land surrounding his neighborhood, driving rent prices up and St. Francis' low-income families out.He started brainstorming with St. Patrick's seminary professor Father George Schultze and Ignatius Press founder Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio to come up with a way to create sustainable income for the poor in the area. That's how the idea of NanoFarms USA, a worker-owned farming cooperative, was born.
After receiving permission from Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone and St. Patrick's seminary rector Father Gladstone Stevens, Fr. Goode and St. Francis parishioners started using seminary grounds to plant produce, which they then started selling at local parishes and markets.
Not only do they sell the produce but they also sell miniature gardens, the Nano Farms, and then supply the labor to maintain them. Fr. Goode says, "NanoFarms is responding to the Holy Father’s constant call to the Church to care for the poor."  

Perhaps at the Wednesday Novena, instead of praying for a just distribution of the earth's wealth, we might rather pray for the distribution and growth of many Nano Farms.

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