By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The second annual “Hands in the Soil” program will be offered by CommonWealth Urban Farms beginning Friday, March 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The program’s goal is to bring clergy renewal through gardening and environmental awareness.
The CommonWealth Urban Farms community, located at 3310 N. Olie in the Central Park neighborhood of Oklahoma City, is directed by Pat Hoerth Batchelder, owner of Turtle Rock Farm. She refers to the CommonWealth as her “In Town” home.
On the first Friday of each month. from March through November, a group of 6 – 8 clergy will attend a day-long program in which they spend time working on the urban farm. The group will process the experience with a spiritual director and environmental educator from Turtle Rock Farm In Town.
According to Hoerth, the program will expose clergy to “healing and renewal while experiencing life in a garden.”
The program offers clergy a day to get their hands in the soil on the farm, participate in hands-on learning while establishing a “clergy garden.” The experience will include composting, food forests, planting, harvesting, and growing in raised beds.
The group will also engage in cosmological, theological, and spiritual reflections; explore agrarian values and the ecosystem; discuss the faith community’s role in creation care and planet health; and share a fresh-from-the-farm lunch with farm community members.
“CommonWealth Urban Farm is well-situated to provide clergy of all faith traditions the chance to spend replenishing time with their hands in the soil, learn about our food system and growing food, spend time together working, breaking bread and reflecting on why and how faith communities can lead the way in caring with our planet home,” Hoerth added.
“Over the nine-month program, participants will join with this community in the ancient cycle of sowing seed and reaping the harvest, of entering the sacred partnership between earth and humanity whereby we are all sustained and nourished.”
At the end of the nine-month program, participants will schedule a Saturday morning tour of CommonWealth Urban Farms for three of their faith community members.
After completing the program, one clergy participant stated, “It forced me to take a day…the accountability of showing up. It helped remind me to be grateful for those who feed other people.”
A fee of $225, due with registration, will cover food, utilities, and equipment costs. CEUs are available. Registration deadline is Feb. 15. The program is underwritten by Green Connections, a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation dedicated to Earth education in Oklahoma.