October 5, 2007
Good harvestWe’ve been enjoying fall apples at work—sharing slices of the varieties that don’t come from the grocery chains, but from farmers’ markets. Flavors to savor. And much to be grateful for, too, especially to the farmers who keep growing old varieties, even as they take risks planting seeds of new types.
Here in the Midwest we think fondly of Johnny Appleseed—mostly when we sing the family grace: “The Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed, the Lord is good to me.” But of Johnny himself, I knew little. Until a week ago when Jeffrey Myers e-mailed a birthday tribute to him—all the way from Franfurt, Germany, where he is pastor of St. Paul’s at Alte Nikolaikirche am . Seems Johnny was John Chapman, a man from Massachusetts who during the late 1700s and early 1800s traveled west, to what would become Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, carrying apple seeds from Pennsylvania to create nurseries in the wilderness. Myers shares more Chapman lore—including that his purpose was not material gain. He often gave away trees. He also was known for negotiating disputes between settlers and American Indians and sharing his Christian faith.
In our November issue you’ll read a profile Norman Borlaug, another man who has spent his life working so others might have food to eat. The 93-year-old ELCA member this year received the Congressional Gold Medal for developing high-yield wheat and agricultural techniques for use in developing nations. His watchword: “Peace cannot be built on empty stomachs.”
And closer to home, young men and women are harvesting the wheat, peas, beans, tomatoes and other produce from the garden they planted on the roof of a health-food store. They’re part of Urban Habitat Chicago, working with seed money from a City of Chicago Green Roof Grant. Lots of sweat was poured into the effort. I know because my son Dan is one of the volunteer farmers.
Seems there is something that runs deep in the soul—to care for the earth wisely so it will yield food for all. Johnny Appleseed was right, thanking the Lord for giving the things we need. When we recognize how much we have been given, we also realize how much we have to share.