Co-own the first community-owned farm in Northern Ireland by 5 December!

Jonny Hanson of Jubilee, a Christian creation care organisation, explains why they’re setting up Northern Ireland’s first community-owned farm, and how to get involved.

All over the world, Christians and churches are rediscovering their mandate to care for creation. Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the subject, Laudato si, has reverberated around the planet, from shanty towns to corridors of power. In a similar vein, the World Evangelical Alliance is establishing a Sustainability Centre in Bonn, Germany.

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All over Ireland, too, Christians and churches are rediscovering their mandate to care for creation. The Church of Ireland recently voted overwhelmingly to divest their pension fund from fossil fuel investments and so help tackle the causes of climate change. Likewise, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland have just accepted a report from their Stewardship of Creation panel, adopting creation care as an official position of the denomination.

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This concern for the world around us is no mere passing fad or fancy. Rather, it is a return to the original stewardship mandate of Genesis 1 and 2, where humankind was given the privilege and responsibility of looking after the rest of God’s creation, on God’s terms. The rest of the biblical narrative also reminds us that creation care matters to God, and therefore to the outlook and mission of God’s people. In Leviticus 25 we see a society where the wellbeing of families and the wellbeing of the land were inextricably linked, and where the economic system existed to serve this end, rather than exploit it. In Colossians 1, we’re reminded of the pre-eminent role of Christ’s resurrection in restoring relationships, including with the non-human creation, ‘making peace by the blood of his cross’ (v. 23).

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The latest scientific evidence complements these age-old revealed truths, detailing how God uses creation to care for us as much as he uses us to care for creation. Physical ecosystem services, like pollination, water filtration and the climate, sustain us; without them, human life and activity could not survive on this planet. Cultural ecosystem services, like tasty food, beautiful scenery and beloved pets, delight and inspire us; without them, human life would not thrive on this planet, and our innate need for pleasure, beauty and companionship would not be fully realised.

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In light of all this, we at Jubilee exist to work with Christians and churches in Ireland and beyond to care for creation together, to the glory of God. We also work with local communities to achieve this goal, including with people of differing backgrounds and beliefs. Established in 2017 after several years of prayer, planning and consultation, we define creation care as environmental and agricultural stewardship that incorporates flourishing and fairness, welfare and wellbeing. In seeking to implement this holistic vision, our mission is to practice and promote care farming, community-supported agriculture (CSA), and conservation education and engagement.

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For the first six months of 2018, we were able to use a temporary site in the Co. Antrim port town of Larne. In that short space of time we achieved a great deal of exciting things. Over 100 volunteers attended one of our monthly community volunteer days. Almost 100 primary school-age children attended one of our curriculum-based nature education classes. Twenty-four families each purchased a subscription to our pig club and received a quarter pig’s worth of free range pork in return. And at our Bioblitz Festival of Science and Nature in June, we welcomed more than 400 members of the public to participate in a 24 hour programme of walks, talks and activities, with traditional music and a free range hog roast thrown in for good measure.

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Now, we’re raising £310,000 to purchase a small farm outside Larne, where we can bring our ambitious plans for Jubilee Farm to fruition, with organic pigs, poultry, goats and vegetables, plus an internship programme, and even “glamping” in due course. Already, we’ve raised £165,000 from existing supporters to purchase the farmhouse. Now, we need to raise £145,000 to buy the 13.5 acres of land, as well as polytunnels and other equipment, by Christmas. As a Community Benefit Society – a form of cooperative social enterprise – we’re raising this money via a community share offer, making this the first community-owned farm in Northern Ireland. Launched in Belfast on 20th October, the minimum investment in the project starts from only £50, making it the perfect Christmas present. But hurry, the share offer closes on 5 December!

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All over the world and all over Ireland, Christians and churches are rediscovering their mandate to care for creation. Please consider joining us in putting this mandate into practice at Jubilee Farm.

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Find out more about and invest in Jubilee’s community share offer at http://www.jubilee.coop/shareoffer

Irish Catholic Eco Eye

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis paints a compelling picture of the people of God together rediscovering their mandate to care for God’s world. But how are we to put this noble calling into practice? Here are three suggestions at three different levels: the individual; the parish; and the diocese or denomination.

Continue reading

‘The land is mine’

The ‘Year of Jubilee’ first came to my attention through Ron Sider’s book ‘Rich Christians in an age of hunger’, published in 1978. It’s a challenging concept that, more recently, helped galvanise support for the Jubilee 2000 ‘Drop the debt’ campaign in persuading governments to reduce the debt burden on developing countries. In Leviticus 25 the Year of Jubilee is introduced along with a strong focus on redemptio Continue reading

Kingdom coffee: Fairtrade catering at your church?

Making the case for seeking the Kingdom of God through our church catering supplies.  Why not adapt this short summary for your own church?

Your kingdom coffee come…
Coffee – that glorious liquid. Whether it’s the fragrant aroma wafting up your nostrils; the heavenly taste tantalising your tastebuds; or the caffeine buzzing round your brain. Or maybe it’s the combination of all three. And ditto for tea, if that’s your tipple of choice. Between the two drinks, we get through a lot in a year as a church. But what of the people who produce our tea and coffee, mostly in parts of the world a lot less well-off than we are? Are they savouring the fruits of their labours or does it leave a bitter taste in their mouth? Continue reading

A Sabbath for the land

Leviticus 25 – beginning with the first seven verses – A Sabbath for the land (Leviticus 25: 1-7)

The Genesis account of the Creation tells us that when God made humankind He gave us responsibility for what happened next with the created world. God then ‘stepped back’ and had a sabbath, or day of rest. Humankind’s first day was also this sabbath and some see significance in this for our well-being and work-life balance: that from our rested bodies and minds come our energy, passion and creativity. Then humankind’s relationships with God, with each other and with the environment went horribly wrong at the Fall. Continue reading

The rise of ‘small milk’

A progressive alternative to mega dairies that’s good for everyone – cows, farmers, consumers and the rest of creation…

Forked magazine

In contrast to the vast US-style ‘mega dairies’ appearing in parts of the UK, one Sussex biodynamic dairy farm says small-scale milk production can work, both sustainably and economically. But does it stack up? Andrew Wasley reports

The Plaw Hatch farm shop, nestling in the beautiful West Sussex countryside somewhere between Forest Row and Balcombe, is how shops probably once were, and probably should be again in the future.

Minimal gimmickry – no flashy signage, overpowering advertising, or misleading ‘2for1’ offers on produce no one really wants or needs – lots of daylight, sacks and pallets, boxes, real smells (as opposed to the fake aromas pumped out by supermarkets to project authenticity), and – most importantly – piles of real food, unburdened, in the main, by excessive packaging or fanfare.

Food on sale includes fruit and vegetables, groceries, tinned produce and other ‘essentials ‘, fresh bread, cakes, meat, oils, juices…

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