In 2015, Pope Francis issued a letter urging the world to act on climate change and protect those who are most vulnerable.
“He asked us to consider both the cry of the poor and the cry of the planet,” says Franciscan Friar Michael Lasky.
He says the message inspired him and his fellow friars to find a new use for 80 acres of land near Baltimore, Maryland.
For years, they had leased it to a farmer who grew corn and soybeans using industrial methods that deplete soil nutrients and compact the earth.
“I took a walk out into the middle of our farmland and it was like walking on concrete,” he says.
In Lasky’s region, climate change is causing more heavy downpours and dangerous flooding. He says compacted soil makes the flooding worse because water runs off the fields rather than being absorbed into rich, fertile ground.
So the friars decided to transform their land. Now, they lease most of it to an organic farmer who grazes cattle sustainably.
And on three acres, they created their own small farm. They planted cover crops to replenish the soil, and they started growing food, which will be donated to a soup kitchen in Baltimore.
So, inspired by Pope Francis, they’re helping feed the poor and nurture the earth.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.