It has been over 18 months of preparation, teaching, dreaming, and planning. Food for Life is now a reality! Starting with 10 farmer cooperators, Food for Life is in the process of building a community of people who will stand together in the face of significant oppression. Food security is always a maddening condition that no one should ever have to suffer. Food security amongst farmers and farm workers is just shocking and should never happen. As global pressure exerts itself, local small plot farmers are forced to borrow increasingly for farm inputs and are left with less money to support their families every year.
Cooperatives have become a vital part in sustainability for rural communities but have themselves become less stable and many have failed over the past decade. Food for Life is starting small which will allow leaders to learn without placing the community under further risk.
What makes this venture so exciting is the participation with the local church. Congregations are banding together in support of these farmers. In the rural churches it is the farmers who are beginning to think differently about how to support each other, choosing to act as a community rather than solely in their own interest. This has included a collective decision to pursue ecologically sustainable farming practices that will restore soil quality after many years of over fertilization. This was not a decision they were compelled to take, in fact it was their decision to make it a mandatory aspect of membership, community in action for social change. It was an amazing thing to witness. Creation Care and Marketplace Ministry coming together within Sustainable Community Development. It is a Gospel Movement!
In the city, where most of the rice is sold, urban churches have also committed to support these farmers and farm workers. Congregations are making decisions to purchase locally grown rice over imported options that are most often less expensive. This is the reality these farmers face. Factory farming in other S.E. Asian countries has pushed down the price of rice in the region. Farmers in The Philippines, small land holders, are unable to compete if they try to go head to head with such scale. Where these small landholders have an advantage is in their ability to produce higher quality food, Food for Life. These urban churches are learning about food quality and community value, choosing to purchase local products that benefit the local economy and their families. It is a fine example of using the marketplace to assist in transformation, in ways that are sustainable and tasty!