They’re not just places to buy lettuce or apples anymore. This winter, ELCA congregations in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois are hosting or supporting farmers’ markets that help farm families earn extra income during the cold season. Shoppers can select from meats, dairy products, wool, yarn, eggs, jams, honey, soap, handcrafts and more.
Trinity Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, Wis., held a farmer’s market in November and has another set for February. Mary Jorgensen, a pastor of Trinity, said 10 percent of the market proceeds go to the Harvest of Hope emergency fund. Since 1986 this ecumenical fund has given Wisconsin farm families more than $727,000 in small grants for such crises as electric power cutoffs, veterinary bills, machine repairs, house fires and more.
Wisconsin farmer Tony Ends directs the Churches’ Center for Land and People, an ecumenical group that helps coordinate the markets. Ends said the markets help “fulfill our mission to farmers” and receive support from several ELCA synods.
That’s a good fit for Trinity’s parishioners, Jorgensen said. “We’ve had an emphasis on Earth stewardship, as well as selling fair-trade products,” she said. “This just seemed like a natural next step.”
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