If you’ve never heard of Fred Bahnson, that’s okay: I’m happy to change that for you. Along with two other people you may never have heard of – Duke Divinity School professors Norman Wirzba and Ellen Davis – Fred Bahnson is leading the way for people of faith to re-evaluate their relationship with God’s earth.
Fred Bahnson, once the manager of Anathoth Community Garden in North Carolina, is quickly becoming the public face of the “faith and food” movement. His new book, Soil and Sacrament, came out this month. Published by Simon and Schuster, it has the weight of a marketing campaign behind it – which, for once, is a good thing.
Here’s a TEDx talk in which he introduces himself and describes his journey:
I was so excited to read Soil and Sacrament that I pre-ordered it for Kindle so I didn’t have to wait for the hardcover to ship. It’s a combination of memoir and journalism, describing both Bahson’s personal experiences as a church-based community garden manager and his visits to other faith-based gardens, including both Jewish and Christian communities. The pleasure of the book was twofold: the writing sometimes made me stop in my tracks just to admire his grasp of the craft; the content focused on what truly matters: right relationship with God, one another, and the earth, our home.
My only quibble with Bahnson comes at the end of the book, when he describes what it takes to get started founding a garden like Anathoth or the others he visits. He devotes just a few pages in the Epilogue to this topic, which could easily be a book in itself. I know I’d love to read more on this topic and be connected with others pursuing this path. The good news is that Wake Forest Divinity School has hired Bahnson to direct their new Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing more from Bahnson: both the lyrical and the practical. I’ll definitely be paying attention.