Today is the Feast of Saint Francis. It seems a good day for a deeper focus on caring for the earth, clean water and sustainable agriculture. I read an article in the Star Tribune on July 20 titled, “Grass Buffers Have Proven their Worth in Minnesota Farm Country.” I knew that there was a lot of resistance to the law passed in 2015 that required buffer land along waterways, but I was not aware of the end result. The law says that public waters, as defined by the Department of Natural Resources, must be buffered by permanent vegetation at least 30-feet wide, with an average of 50-feet. Public ditches, meanwhile, which typically are man-made or man-altered, require 16.5-foot buffers. I was very pleased to read that the current compliance with the law is high. Tom Gile, Resource Conservation Section Manager from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources was quoted in the article. “On public waters, our compliance is now over 99 percent statewide,’’ Gile said. “On public ditches, compliance is higher than 96 percent.” Cleaner water is one result. Another result is that the buffers provide much needed wildlife habitat in parts of Minnesota that have lost hundreds of thousands of Conservation Reserve Program set-aside acres. The members of the Caring for Creation Team were surprised at the high rate of compliance and encouraged by it.
Another discussion with the Caring for Creation Team was sustainable farming. I did an internet search and found that Minnesota has a Sustainable Farming Association. (See https://www.sfa-mn.org/.) This is what the organization says about itself. “For 30 years, we’ve quietly proven that farming differently works—for us and the environment. We run small farms, some organic, some bigger than others. We help each other clean up and grow more, row-by-row, pasture-by-pasture. We treat our animals humanely and with respect. And we know that the soil-building techniques we teach can capture carbon and fight climate change--all while increasing farmers' profitability.”
Although the Caring for Creation Team has not been meeting regularly, we still encourage members of CtK to care for creation in whatever ways they can. Recycle, reuse, and reduce use of water, production of waste, pollution of air and water, and deforestation. It seems like an overwhelming project, but God calls us to be good stewards of the gifts of creation. Step by step and little by little, we can answer God’s calling.