Interested in hearing Tallu share a comprehensive overview of our work? She was interviewed on a recent episode of WXNA's All About Nashville radio show by by Laurel Creech, assistant director of sustainability within Metro. The interview starts at about minute 18 - click here to listen.
By TNFP’s Executive Director, Tallu Schuyler Quinn
Recently I was preparing for a public talk about Growing Together—the market farm The Nashville Food Project supports. I was making a quick mental list of all the benefits for the farmer participants who farm in Growing Together—they get outdoors, reconnect to land, make their own plans and goals, meet one another, learn from one another, grow food to sell, connect to a wider Nashville, earn personal income and money for their families, but primary among all these benefits (and more), a co-worker reminded me, is that Growing Together farmers grow the food they want to eat—an outcome of this project that is both simple and profound.
Many of you know I come to this work of grow, cook, and share from years of public ministry. Even though The Nashville Food Project is not faith based, it is impossible to shake my theological lens. Both food and community are such central themes throughout Judeo-Christian history—not just conceptual themes, but Jews and Christians are constantly working out how to share actual food and how to live in actual community. A while back, I heard Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles speak about the Christian sacrament of communion—he said something like “Jesus is not concerned that we’ll forget the cup is sacred, but that it’s ordinary.” Yes, ordinary. What I love so much about our work at The Nashville Food Project is that our work to bring people together to grow, cook and share is ordinary—it's some of the oldest work of the world.
Somewhere along the way in my theological formation, I think I was taught that spiritual life is something still, something stopped in time, something carved away from the ordinary world or rhythm of a regular day. But as I get older, I see examples of prayer all around me that look more like chores. They are varied and endless and they are ordinary: cooking a meal, setting a table, planting trees, taking someone’s temperature, turning compost, feeding animals, packing a child’s lunch, weeding garden beds, mowing the lawn, raising children. All of these, when practiced mindfully, can clear the head, open the heart, reconnect us to something hopeful, create space in the day to praise the living world.
The Jewish, feminist writer Marge Piercy penned a poem called “To Be of Use.” In the poem she reminds us that “the work of the world is common as mud,” and “Hopi vases that held corn are put in museums, but you know they were made to be used. The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.” I reflect on this with deepest gratitude for a wide Nashville community who continues to step up in every extraordinary way to support this ordinary work—thank you.