Urban farm produces food but also lessons on Franciscan traditions


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit, recently named one of the top 10 urban farms in the U.S. by Natural Home magazine, uses its organic garden to spread lessons on the Franciscan tradition of feeding and nourishing the body, soul and spirit. Natural Home magazine regarded community service as its primary criteria in ranking the farms.

"These places provide public access to their crops and many afford invaluable services to low-income families and the homeless through various programs," Letitia Star, writer for Natural Home magazine, told Catholic News Service.

Established in 1997 by Rick Samyn, then a Capuchin Franciscan brother, Earthworks is more than just a community garden. It provides volunteers with a way to reconnect with nature on a more visceral level.

Samyn said he saw the disconnect between individuals, their neighbors and their community and used this as his catalyst to begin the garden on a small plot of land behind the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

"The world is mutually beneficial, not Darwinian," Samyn said in a telephone interview with CNS. "The idea of gardening from a Franciscan perspective is about relationships and love."