Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

Hoop house produce
Originally uploaded by the gladdings
Jeremy Porter, a member of our community here, is farming just under an acre of land about 30 minutes outside Lexington. Supported by his wife Karissa, he has started a CSA called Eden's Gate, providing fresh produce to 40 shareholders, ourselves included.

Back in the winter months he bought and constructed this hoop house with the help of several teams of volunteers. He has been starting all his seedlings to transplant to the field in the hoop house, and has also planted rows of vegetables in the ground, as you can see. This picture was taken 3 weeks ago - when I went out last Thursday, you could barely see the paths, so lush was the produce. We've enjoyed some heads of lettuce, broccoli and turnips this week, and the CSA officially starts on Thursday - a week earlier than planned.

I've been out a few times to help plant the seedlings, hoe and water. It's been a gift to spend time with Jeremy, get my hands in good soil, and watch the miracle of growth from seed to seedling to food up close.

There's plenty of information on CSAs available on the web - there's probably one near you. Support your local farmers, and enjoy the amazing flavour of locally-sourced produce.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Originally uploaded by the gladdings
We spent a delightful couple of days this weekend enjoying animals as a family. Maggie's class took a field trip to Louisville zoo today, and we all went along. It was a cool, overcast day - perfect for wandering around with a bunch of kindergardeners. It was our first time to this zoo, and they pack a lot into a small space - which brought out the ambivalence I (Sean) feel about zoos. I love being able to see animals I would probably never ever get to see otherwise, but recognize that most are crammed into a concrete and steel structure that surely cannot feel like home, even to those that were born there. Still, the animals today were very lively - giraffes see-sawing around their enclosure, penguins diving and swimming, a very friendly orangutan and a siberian tiger that roared as we approached - a quite terrifying sound when you're not expecting it, the deep bass rumble at the end reverberating around in our chests. Maggie and Seth had a big time with their friends, and we enjoyed leisurely conversation with other parents.

On Saturday, a truly glorious spring day, we went to the Bluegrass Sheepdog trials and watched dog and owner work together on a lush, green canvas of rolling hills. It's felt like a huge gift to have two full days of outdoor time together, and seeing the beauty of creation expressed in so many ways filled us deeply.

Hopefully this brief entry signals a return to updating our blog a little more often - watch this space!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review – Friendship at the Margins

Friendship at the Margins Friendship at the Margins is part of the Resources for Reconciliation Book Series, a partnership between IVP and the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. The series asks what it means to pursue hope in the midst of the many manifestations of brokenness in our world. Each book is co-authored by a practitioner and someone from the academy. I have been looking forward to reading Friendship, written as it is by two people I have respected for a long time: Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh, and Christine Pohl, professor of social ethics at Asbury Seminary, who was my advisor during my time there.

Two decades ago I volunteered regularly at a free lunch program offered by a downtown church in Lubbock, Texas. From one to two hundred people came, mostly from the neighborhood. We ‘got them through the line, fed and cleaned up’ in an hour. For a reason I no longer remember, one day I decided to stand in line, get a plate and sit down at a table and get into a conversation with a couple of people. That was an important milestone in my journey into the heart of what the authors discuss in this book.

Although a relatively short book, it took me a while to read Friendship. The authors ask questions I thought I had satisfactorily answered a long time ago, and yet through their graceful interweaving of stories with the insight that comes from praxis, I found myself being challenged at the same time I was nodding in agreement with them. I took stock of some of the friendships I have, and confess I came out wanting. Having lived in Lexington for 9 months now, I became somewhat uncomfortable as I reflected on whether blossoming friendships here are truly mutual or if I’m still tempted to see certain people as “projects”, “potential donors” or “representatives of causes.” One of the strengths of the book is the honesty and humility evident throughout, which gently drew forth the same from me.

The book takes an unflinching yet generous look at donor-recipient issues in service and mission; at the unavoidable ambiguities and tensions that arise when we become friends with those outside our own social circles; and at the necessity of long-term commitment to place and people. The last chapter, which asks what kinds of spiritual practices help sustain friendships at the margins, seems particularly important. What will help us sustain long term commitment to each other – where does our hope come from, and how will we nurture it in the midst of our shared brokenness? (To that end I’m also looking forward to reading Pilgrimage of a Soul by Chris’ wife and partner in mission, Phileena, released next month.)

Friendship at the Margins – highly recommended.