Three years ago, the Rev. Elizabeth DeRuff, a priest of the Episcopal Church in California, began gathering people to plant, tend and harvest heirloom wheat on church-owned property at Bishop’s Ranch.
Not only did she learn how to tend heirloom wheat, she also led “farm to altar table” workshops, developed communion bread recipes, and began to teach about the connections between the practice of faith, sustainable agriculture and climate change. As she wrote,
Changing the way the church sources wheat for communion bread is wholly doable. And, not only is it doable, I wonder if the symbolic role that Eucharist plays in Christianity, that one small bite of bread that unites and energizes the people of Christ worldwide, might be the catalyst we need to bring about broader change in agricultural practices and the health of our environment.
Her project became Honore Farm & Mill, named for St. Honore, a sixth-century saint and the patron of communion bread bakers and flour merchants.
Earlier this year, Honore Farm and Mill received a grant from the Episcopal Church to share their knowledge and expand their programs beyond their first site in California.
We’re excited to announce that Plainsong Farm will be the second site for this exciting ministry.
If you participated in our Blessing the Fields service, you might remember that we blessed a field for “future wheat planting.” At that time we knew we had received a grant for heirloom wheat seed from Slow Food West Michigan’s Biodiversity Micro-Grant program. We also knew we were a strong contender to be a founding member of the “Honoré Growers Guild,” a new national membership of heirloom wheat growers using practices and teachings from Honoré Farm & Mill. But we couldn’t announce it yet because nothing was official!
Now it’s all set. This fall, we plan to plant two types of heirloom winter wheat: one plot with seed funded by Slow Food, and one with seed from Honoré Farm & Mill. And that’s not all! We are also looking forward to hosting the Rev. Elizabeth DeRuff for a two-day “plant, pray and learn” experience. She plans to be with us the weekend of September 23rd and 24th. More details about our time with her will be coming soon!
Honoré Farm and Mill makes their heirloom wheat available in harvest shares for congregations who bake bread for communion, and so will we. We will also have wheat available for direct sale. If you want to know more, just subscribe to our email list (use the form at the bottom of this page) and we will keep you posted.
Because we are planting winter wheat this fall, it will be available just about one year from now: summer 2018. Nothing like planning ahead! Our community planting day will be Saturday, September 23rd. It’s a great project for all ages. That weekend Elizabeth will also lead a farm to altar table workshop in greater Grand Rapids. We’ll have registration information shortly as we anticipate wide interest.
We ask your prayers as we expand our programs and become a 100% non-profit ministry. As always, your support makes God’s work in this place come to fuller life. Here’s the link to give.