Part spiritual quest, part agricultural travelogue, this moving and profound exploration of the joy and solace found in returning to the garden is inspiring and beautiful.
After he graduated from Duke Divinity School, Fred Bahnson underwent an agrarian conversion. Trading the pulpit for the plough, Bahnson helped start a community garden in Cedar Grove, North Carolina—a town struggling under an unspoken racial divide.
As Anathoth Community Garden slowly cultivates a new future as a progressive multi-racial society, Bahnson is likewise transformed from shy and self-effacing to a charismatic leader. His time at Anathoth becomes the impetus for a road trip spent visiting different faith-based agrarian groups, one for each season—from a community of Roman Catholic monks who pursue a life of contemplation while harvesting rare mushrooms on a Southern plantation, to a Jewish organic farm in the Berkshires, where he and other young people learn the agrarian arts of ancient Israel right in Connecticut.
Recently appointed director of Wake Forest University School of Divinity's pioneering Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, Bahnson is the perfect guide on this lyrical and inspiring journey. Through his travels across the country and into his own past, Bahnson comes to see “how our yearning for real food is inextricably bound up in our spiritual desire to be fed” and discovers how rituals of cultivation can become a powerful source of community and purpose.
About the Author
Fred Bahnson is a writer, permaculture gardener, and the cofounder and former director of Anathoth Community Garden. The coauthor of Making Peace With the Land, his essays have appeared in Orion, The Sun, and Best American Spiritual Writing 2007. He lives with his wife and three sons in the mountains of western North Carolina and is the director of the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
Praise for Soil and Sacrament: Food, Faith and Growing Heaven on Earth…
“This book is profoundly, beautifully down to earth, which is almost certainly where we all need to spend more time on a planet in crisis.”
“Fred Bahnson believes that faith is expressed in the work of our hands as well as our minds and hearts, and that in community we can meet the needs of a hungry world. After reading his beautifully written book, I believe these things, too, and see new ways to put my beliefs into action. Soil and Sacrament is about new life—for ourselves, our descendants, and the earth on which we all depend. Read it, let it move you, and shelve it next to Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, and Kathleen Norris.”
-Parker J. Palmer
“Soil and Sacrament is a journey of return toward the founding Christian fact: spiritual life is not divorced from natural life, it is natural life bowing to an extra-natural, life-giving, never-ending miracle.”
-David James Duncan