One of the positive things emerging from COVID-19 is the renewed interest in home economics — from sewing masks to gardening and food preservation.
I’ve piddled in my garden for years, but this may be the year to up my game. This spring I’ve tripled my raised bed gardening space (now up to a humble (!) 48 square-feet) and hope to learn how to can.
Both of my grandfathers farmed. Grandpa Knutson worked on a combiner team following the wheat harvest up and down the vertical breadbasket in the middle of America. Even in the sandy soils of south Texas where he settled, he always had an amazing garden.
Grandfather Ogden was a school administrator during the day and dairy farmer before and after school. Skip down to my generation and none of my 12 cousins nor three siblings know much more than how to grow tomatoes from containers.
It took humanity about 180,000 years to learn how to farm — I hope we don’t lose that knowledge in the span of a couple generations. Let’s not outsource our food production so much so that most of us forget how to sow seed and to enjoy the literal fruit of our labor.
This week many churches celebrate Rogation Days. Rogation comes from the Latin word rogare, meaning to ask or to beg. The first Rogation Days occurred in fifth-century France. The bishop of Vienne was desperate for God’s intervention to save his people from attacks from hungry wolf packs, political disarray following the destruction of the king’s palace by fire, a cattle pestilence and earthquakes…and that was just one year, 470 CE.
The bishop organized a three-day procession around his diocese in which the people prayed to the Lord for protection, for relief from the terror and for favorable weather as they began their spring planting.
By the ninth- century, the church made Rogation Days part of its official calendar. In England, the tradition thrived, and priests would often go out to bless farmers’ fields and “beat the bounds,” carrying sticks to ward off the devil from the parish’s boundaries.
For the past few years, Grace Church has had a Rogation Procession around our property and in our Giving Garden. This year we couldn’t physically gather so we made a video with prayers, scriptures, and images of gardens and farms throughout Haywood County. You can check it out our website: www.gracewaynesville.com.
We ask for God’s blessing on all of our local farmers and livestock producers. COVID-19 is reminding me that Haywood County — its people and its land — has so many gifts locally available to all of us to live well. Sometimes it takes a crisis for us to realize how good we have it. Thanks be to God.
Joslyn Schaefer is the rector at Grace in the Mountains Episcopal Church.