USA (FH) – Two days focusing on global awareness of environmental issues are slated for the month of June – World Environment Day on the 5th and World Day to Combat Desertification on June 17th. For Food for the Hungry, the two days are more than dates on a calendar. They are a reminder of the commitment to eradicate food insecurity.
Gary Edmonds, president of Food for the Hungry, says he appreciates the opportunity to connect people around the world to the needs of so many. “When we go into these environments and places where you’ve got a backdrop of extreme poverty, the first thing that needs to happen is education of the role of humankind in caring for the world around them. Teach the people local that we’ve been given responsibility. God has created all things, God has created the environment, He’s created the soil in such a way that it would produce and it would produce abundance.”
With education comes practical training. Food for the Hungry sets up controlled environments where new methods of planting, growing and cultivating crops are given hands-on application. Edmonds explains, “One of the methods is often known as ‘Farming God’s Way’– that is, how to take a soil that has been worn out and teach it how to replenish itself.”
The community is taught how to use natural fertilizers, using the cuttings from current harvests to enrich the soil for future crops. Artificial fertilizers are used, rotating crops, and leaving the soil fallow after a season of continued planting.
Crops are not the only thing Food for the Hungry focuses on with its conservation agriculture projects. “It’s estimated right now that 800 million people don’t have enough clean water to drink, and between 6 and 8 million people are dying annually,” Edmonds says.” Food for the Hungry teaches communities how to create reservoirs, how to use gravity to help with water flow and how to set up trundle pumps.
Even the children are invited to participate in the environmental programs by planting and caring for trees that are planted as part of the effort to combat desertification. “We’ll talk to the children about their responsibility in making sure new trees are watered,” Edmonds says. “In a very holistic way, we’re trying to teach the people to learn how to live both with and at the same time live from the environment that God has created.”
Food for the Hungry’s approach to caring for the environment is part of its larger mission to walk with local churches, local leaders and local families in the communities they serve. Edmonds says that focus extends to governments as well so that systemic changes can take place in policies that affect those communities.
“We know that, for there to be long-term sustainability and relative health and well-being for the people there, that there needs to be alignment between the government, the leaders, families, local churches,” he says.
The commitment to that alignment is a personal passion for Edmonds. That’s why he was instrumental in founding the Micah Challenge. He knew that the challenge set forth by prophets of God to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly had current-day meaning to government leaders who had development goals for their countries. He reflects, “We have actually an intersection between the wishes of God, the words of the prophets and what the government leaders now are seeking, and that is for there to be a place of justice and mercy.” Food for the Hungry sees that intersection as an opportunity to care for the environment and truly align with God’s desires and plans.
Edmonds encourages everyone to be a part of the efforts being made to establish food security for communities at risk. On their website, Food for the Hungry offers several ways to support the work being done, and even provides information on how to use many of the Gardening God’s Way techniques for home gardens.