On August 3, 2019, I visited Raptor Creek Farm at the invitation of farmer Kristin Smith. The vastness of this project is one of the first things that impresses the visitor. In particular, one sizeable plot with raised beds has been set aside for special use. Some of the beds are specifically for seniors, and some are for homeless and/or low-income gardeners. All of the boxes were bursting with vegetables, herbs, berries, and flowers. Everything else grown on this beautiful farm is donated to our Josephine County Food Bank.
Thanks to Kristin and her partner, Jeff, Raptor Creek Farm is undergoing a transformation. In the past three years, they have made a major conversion from the use of GMO seeds and restricted crops to organic, diversified foods. It struck me immediately that this was exactly what Genesis 1:29 was referring to: “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed and every tree which is upon the face of the earth, which is the fruit of the tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat.” Indeed, in Biblical times, Moses and Jesus ate foods from such gardens. There were no abominations of creation such as GMOs. Toxic insecticides and herbicides did not spell death to innocent birds, butterflies, and other members of God’s creation. At Raptor Creek Farm, nature allows for natural pollination and insect control--with, I might add, some help from Kristin’s formidable array of farming skills, such as using marigolds to deter the pests she has inherited on this farm from the monocultures grown on the land for too many years.
Unfortunately, the Josephine County Food Bank is still caught in the paradigm of measuring the success of the farm by the weight of the food it produces. Ironic, in a situation where many of the recipients of the farm’s bounty are trapped in a diet consisting of food bearing too much weight and not enough nutrients. Obesity among lower-income people is due to the fact that most are eating devitalized food. Overeating is the body’s response to feel "full." It seeks the natural, nutrient-rich foods which only organic foods can supply. Moreover, up-weighting food boxes with potatoes and tomatoes puts an excess of solanine into the diet. This toxin manifests as joint pain. If we truly want to have a vital working population, we have to exercise some wisdom and kindness in what we feed them!
Luckily, we have another local program that can have a real impact on the problem of weight vs. substance. The JoCo Gleaners program (a part of the Food Bank) offers gardeners in our community the opportunity to reach out and share their excess produce with our neighbors. So much is needed in our greedy, self-indulgent world, and we are all better served if the goods going around are grown in pesticide-free plots. Kindly think about supporting the community efforts of Raptor Creek Farm with excesses from your own organic garden through their gleaning program, or by donating some of your time helping in the fields Tuesday and Thursday mornings. One of our employees has done so on several occasions, and she had a lovely experience there. The work was not too strenuous at all, and Hailey, their volunteer coordinator, and Kristin were most appreciative of the help and happy to guide volunteers in any unfamiliar processes.
Love and generosity are the bonds which hold a community together!
Ráven Sárá, M.S.Ed., C.A.E., L.Ac.