Abdul Malone, 62, and his son, Ahmad, 6, walk through the vegetable garden at Hope House in Deteroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood June 30. Both volunteer with Voices for Earth Justice. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)

Following in St. Isidore's footsteps

Originally Appeared in : 9811-5/24/18

We had a vegetable garden in our backyard at home, and I assisted with that. Planting the flowers (from seed) was my specialty. I still remember watching the alyssum, zinnias, snapdragons and other flowers come to life.


My husband and I had a small garden when our children were young. Two of our neighbors also had gardens, and we ended up with too much produce to share, so we stopped raising vegetables. However, I still enjoy planting and tending flowers to this day.


My rural background makes me realize the importance of farmers in the world. I appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to raise animals and grow produce. Farmers contribute so much to society in providing the food we eat and other products which sustain our lives.


As the Catholic Rural Life organization has pointed out frequently, farming is indeed a vocation, that is, a calling from God.


On May 15, we celebrated the feast of St. Isidore, the farmer. He has become the patron of farmers and rural communities. In particular, he is the patron of Madrid, Spain, and of the U.S. Catholic Rural Life conference.


Franciscan Media’s website (www.franciscanmedia.org) tells us about the life of St. Isidore. When he was barely old enough to wield a hoe, Isidore entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from Madrid, and worked faithfully on his estate outside the city for the rest of his life. He married a young woman as simple and upright as himself who also became a saint — Maria de la Cabeza. They had one son, who died as a child.


Isidore had deep religious instincts. He rose early in the morning to go to church. All day long, as he walked behind the plow, he communed with God.
He was known for his love of the poor, and there are accounts of Isidore’s supplying them miraculously with food. He had a great concern for the proper treatment of animals.


He died May 15, 1130, and was declared a saint in 1622.


How can we follow in St. Isidore’s footsteps? We can stay close to the earth ourselves by tending our gardens or perhaps volunteering in a community garden. We can help farmers by supporting farmers’ markets, or community supported agriculture (CSAs).


We can also pay attention to what’s happening legislatively. Catholic Rural Life has reported on reactions to the 2018 Farm Bill, which is expected to be taken up in the U.S. House of Representatives in May.


Family farm, sustainable agriculture and church groups have expressed their concern about many of the provisions in the House bill. The consensus is that it currently lacks sufficient improvements to strengthen “safety nets” for farmers, cuts back nutrition assistance programs for food insecure families, upends conservation programs that improve sustainability, and comes up short on rural development programs for struggling rural communities.


As Robert Gronski, policy coordinator for Catholic Rural Life, writes: “This is a crucial time for our nation to put poor and hungry people first, support small and moderate-sized family farms, promote sustainable stewardship of the land, and help vulnerable farmers and rural communities both at home and in developing countries. Your voice can help amend the 2018 Farm Bill.”


To find out more, go to the Catholic Rural Life website (www.catholicrurallife.org) and consider contacting your House representatives about the Farm Bill.


Let’s all do what we can to support the farmers who do so much for us.


Reprinted from the May 10 issue of the Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. It was written by Mary C. Uhler, editor.


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