It was nice to have a little warmth. The winds crept up as we distanced around the fire. It was a gift to join interfaith friends at The Community Ecology Institute’s Freetown Farm in south Columbia. Stuart, an Episcopalian intern in Deacon formation, invited us to take a tour of the Farm and to share in conversation with Chiara D’Amore, Executive Director. We learned about the history of the land and about the Institute’s mission. They pursue a connection to nature, civic ecology, community health, and climate action.
The Institute builds transformative partnerships in community. I’d been hearing about the Farm for months, and it was powerful to see it live. They are engaged with countless groups across Howard County and have vibrant initiatives underway on each plot of the farm. For tons of information on their exciting work, visit their webpage.
Chiara is excited to strengthen interfaith relationships and to dream alongside congregations in the time ahead.
My favorite moment of the tour was when we were invited to find any missing carrots that had not been plucked from the garden patch. Chiara skillfully uprooted numerous stragglers. I eventually found one and dug into the dirt to retrieve it. There was something about simply digging into the soil with my fingers. What a blessing to have safe social interaction in person (such a rare thing in these distanced times) and to be in touch with the land. It was a reminder of how separate I am each day from the earth’s bounty.
We ended our time back around the fire telling stories about our call to love the earth. We shared from our faith traditions and dared to dream about what it would mean for us to be more tied to one another and to the farm. Chiara ended with a hope that this would be the start of fruitful friendships.
It was a cold day, but well worth the journey to Harriett Tubman Lane. I look forward to the day when I will be back and can’t wait to see my children playing in the trees as we join an entire community of folks tending to the chickens, the herbs, and the ever broadening Freetown vision. Blessings to Chiara and all the workers who have put in so much sweat equity, love, and ingenuity here.