Want Good Fruit, Start with the Soil

By Carrie Gress, Ph.D.

 By nick v from washington dc (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By nick v from washington dc (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Dirt is making a comeback. For decades, farmers and consumers took it for granted, but now people are realizing how vital it is for healthy crops and healthy humans.

Joel Salatin may not be a household name, but he is a man that knows a lot about farming. Called the world’s most innovative farmer by TIME magazine, Salatan has been featured in books and films like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Food, Inc. for his practices that are changing the way people think about food.  While his approach may seem radical (such as, no antibiotics, no growth hormones), his farming practices emphasize working with nature instead of against it. And all of it starts with soil. Salatin, like most farmers, know that soil health is crucial. “Stimulating soil biota is our first priority,” says Salatin, “Soil health creates healthy food." Farmers are relearning how “to foster what nature grants.”

Like Salatan, one farmer-turned-priest took his Midwestern know-how and applied it to the idea of growing vocations. Instead of starting with young men directly, this priest went to the heart of where vocations are born; he went to the soil. He first started a women’s Bible study; then a couple’s prayer group; then a men’s group, then a father and son group; a mother daughter group; and finally, he started a group for young men and women to discern their vocations. This farmer-priest knew he had to start at the source - with women. Not surprisingly, his efforts yielded great fruit. He fostered what nature grants.

What is interesting about this is to consider that if women and mothers are the real "soil" of the family, of communities, then what does the devil have to do to get to everyone? Take "the soil" out at the knees. And how have we seen this happen? Convince "the soil" to sterilize herself, or terminate anything that starts to grow. And eventually, everything else rots, or doesn't grow as it should.

Like farmers around the world, people are beginning to realize that there really is something important about soil.

Posted on December 1, 2017 .