These are a few questions Randy Hedman was challenged to reflect on while attending the Global Agriculture Summit.
More than 650 people gathered at Dordt College in northwestern Iowa for the summit on March 3 - 4, 2016, attending workshops and panels, hearing plenary speakers, and networking with others interested in the global intersection of faith, farming, and business.
“The summit really encouraged closer connections between communities in North America and communities in developing countries, promoting a flourishing of agriculture to help overcome challenges and achieve food security,” said Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo, the director of World Renew Canada.
Kaastra-Mutoigo, who moderated a panel discussion called Producers and Stewards and also participated in the closing session, highlighted workshops as an educational and challenging part of the summit.
"What farmers do reflects their beliefs about God and his creation."
“The workshops dealt with such a tremendous diversity of issues that farmers, agri-business owners, and gardeners face…. I enjoyed hearing a presentation by a young pastor who with his wife is using community gardening to connect meaningfully with the community, including providing food for those who are challenged by poverty,” said Kaastra-Mutoigo.
Other topics covered ranged from biotechnology and immigration to soil health and agricultural business training.
The summit was co-hosted by Dordt College and Partners Worldwide, with partner organizations including World Renew and Bread for the World. Several World Renew employees gave workshops, including Tom Post, team leader for World Renew Asia who presented about World Renew’s evaluation of amaranth development in East Africa over the past 15 years.
“For me, a highlight was meeting and listening to Christian farmers and businesspeople who treat their employees—whether immigrants or mainstream citizens—with justice and respect. One built homes for her orchard employees who are mainly undocumented. Another recognizes the high value of his dairy farm immigrant employees who do three milkings a day and don’t quit, so he’s pressing his congressman for immigration reform,” said Post.
David Beckman, president of Bread for the World and the keynote speaker, spoke about advocacy as an important piece in the puzzle of global agriculture and food security. Programs like Feed the Future, which works with countries to develop their agriculture sectors and reduce hunger, are currently funded by the U.S. government. However, it’s up to legislators whether or not to continue putting money towards programs like this by endorsing the 2015 Global Food Security Act.
“[Beckman emphasized] that advocacy is Bible based: the prophets confronted kings with their obligation to care for the most vulnerable,” explained Post. Summit attendees were encouraged to write to their representatives in Congress in support of legislation like the immigration reform bill that failed in the House a couple of years ago, and to support new initiatives like “Feed the Future.”
"I’ve been challenged to remember that taking good care of the land and working towards sustainability is something we’re doing for God’s glory."
Another highlight of the summit was the chance to connect with people from around the world interested in faith and agriculture, including donors, World Renew supporters, and representatives from partner organizations of World Renew, according to Randy Hedman, a member of the World Renew donor relations team.
“There was a lot of energy there,” said Hedman, who ran World Renew’s exhibit table at the summit. “This event pulls together people who are interested in similar things, paying special attention to farmers, their role, and their value in God’s economy.”
This integration of faith and farming was emphasized throughout the summit in workshops, panels, and plenary sessions alike.
“I’ve been challenged to remember that taking good care of the land and working towards sustainability is something we’re doing for God’s glory. What farmers do reflects their beliefs about God and his creation, and you can see this in how crops are farmed and how farm employees are treated,” said Hedman.
Reflecting on one of the speakers, Fred Kirschenmann, Kaastra-Mutoigo pointed back to God’s intentions for the earth at the time of creation and the implications that for the ways we live today.
“If we as Christians can be fruitful and multiply in ways that respect life on earth, this is when we will be able to sustain creation and our own humanity while living in joyful harmony in God’s garden of delight.”
One way you can get involved is by celebrating Foods Resource Bank (FRB) Sunday with us! Join in giving to support Farm for the Future, which provides training in sustainable agriculture to rural farmers so they can grow enough food to feed their families year-round.