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A Joyful Path, Year Three – Week 7: Growing Food, Growing Community — Story: Growing Community

For Classroom and Home School

Week 7: Autumn
Lesson 5: Growing Food, Growing Community – I share Earth’s abundance and make my community a better place
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Getting to the Heart of the Lesson

Throughout the ages, whether hunting and gathering or farming and gardening, food is something that brings people together.

Every year at Christmas, families stretching south from Mexico and throughout Central America, make tamales together. On Friday mornings around the world, Jewish families bake challah for their evening Shabbat. At the end of Ramadan, Islamic communities invite all people to break the fast together, and on any day of the week, everyone is welcome at the Sikh Gurdwara to receive langar, the vegetarian meal served daily as part of the Sikh spiritual teaching to welcome and feed guests!

Simultaneously, many efforts are underway to create resilient communities. The most successful community building efforts reach across religious beliefs, political parties, and socio-economic divides so the local scene can become a better home for everyone. All people want the place they call home to behealthy, welcoming and whole. And typically – even if we feel hesitant or shy at the start – when events invite us to be in community with one another, we are happily surprised by who we meet and what we learn.

The food movement has created many opportunities to consider where we live, who we live with and what the land is needing from us: community gardens, farm-to-school projects, or neighborhood crop swaps are a few examples. All of these efforts are good for the people and good for the land. This lesson explores the importance of tending the land where we live and specifically, growing food to strengthen community.

Teacher Reflection

Some reading and a 10-20 min exercise (more if you have time and wish to take it) so that you are able to experience the teachings offered through this lesson).

Option One — If you are a gardener, give yourself the gift of an uninterrupted hour in your garden this week. Even better: connect with a friend who also gardens and schedule thirty minutes in each of your yards to work together, perhaps taking on a task that you have been putting off and not wanting to do on your own.

Option Two — Prepare one meal this week that includes as many local ingredients as possible. When enjoying food that does not grow near you, call to mind the effort that brought them to your home. Imagine the growers’ faces. Consciously thank these people and their efforts. Wish them well as you enjoy the tastes, nourishment and sustenance. Is there an action you can take to make their lives a bit better? Consider buying fair trade products, or establishing a relationship with the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) efforts near you and signing up for a box of their fresh produce.

Read through the lesson before your time with the children. Decide which Activity Exploration will work best for your class (There are usually two options; choose one.). Just below the heading, “Children’s Lesson and Story” you will find the preparations checklist for this lesson so you can collect any needed materials or make arrangements to support your selected activity.

Sacred Text Quotes

Hebrew Scriptures. Deuteronomy 8:10 (NRSV)

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

Christian Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 3:8 (NRSV)

The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

African Traditions (Ghana), Akan Proverb

It is because one antelope will blow the dust from the other’s eye that two antelope walk together.

Confucianism. Great Learning, 10:9

The accumulation of wealth is the way to scatter the people, and the letting it be scattered among them is the way to collect the people.

Wisdom Quotes

Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating. — Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Something essential happens in a vegetable garden. It’s a place where if you can’t say ‘I love you’ out loud, you can say it in seeds. And the land will reciprocate, in beans. — Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously. — Grace Lee Boggs

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. — J.R.R. Tolkien

Be sure to click here to download the Teaching Introduction and Instructions.

Review & Commentary