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Team Ministry in West Dorset

Harvest Sermon 2015

Posted: 4th October 2015

Copy of text from Rosemary B Clary’s Harvest Sermon

Explore with the children and then the adults what food is produced locally, what do we see as we drive past the fields? What is growing in our gardens?

We are very fortunate, we have a huge variety of produce available to us BUT we are not paying enough for our food! It is NOT just to pay people less for things than it cost them to produce. In fact the Old Testament prophet Amos thundered against unjust practices in the market place for they are repugnant to God. Coventry Diocese’s Rural Officer, Barbara Clutton, wrote recently in the Church Times (28/8/15) that “British Lamb is one of the most naturally reared forms of meat and yet the price currently paid to farmers is about 25% lower than last year. Despite this the price in most supermarkets has only dropped by 6%, and many retailers are still selling imported lamb from New Zealand.”

Dairy farmers

Then there’s the milk issue: we’ve seen the protests on local TV and in the press with the dire warnings that many dairy farmers are going out of business. One was featured on the Spotlight TV programme in the week ending 19/9 when they showed his final sale of machinery, the cattle having gone previously. Yes, I know about the laws of supply and demand and that Russia has banned imports of European milk, and the demand from China has dropped due to their economic slowdown. But we shouldn’t be importing dairy products from the Continent when our own farms have an abundant supply. There are lessons from the past to be learned here.-lots of orchards were grubbed up in the South East, where I come from, and we then imported tons of “Golden Delicious” from France; which in my view are both green and ghastly with no taste at all.

Local produce

There is a knock-on effect from farmers going bust that concerns not only their personal circumstances but also our landscapes and nature generally. Land has to be managed properly. We need to treat both farmers and the land with respect for according to the book of Genesis we are not owners of the land but stewards of it. We need to educate people into the ways of the countryside and how it’s managed. Far too many people think all farmers are rich and that the land more or less looks after itself. We can all do our part to help support farmers by being less greedy for low priced food. We can also support our excellent local Farmers Markets which are held very regularly and there are increasing numbers of farms selling meat direct to the public. We are very fortunate that all this excellent local produce is available to us.

We have so much to be grateful for; I can just remember rationing and the very limited diet I ate as a child. There is such an immense variety of food available now but sadly we are very wasteful with it. We need to do more to educate people in how to plan weekly meals and use up leftovers. Some programmes about this have appeared on TV but I think children need to learn about this in school as well as how to budget (but that’s another topic!) What distresses me about the wastefulness in the UK is the contrast with the stark situation faced by those living in our war torn linked Diocese of Ezo in South Sudan where people have been displaced from their land and are unable to plant and harvest crops and so provide for their families.

Rosemary B Clary

Licensed Lay Minister