Farm, Pray, Share Behind Join the Farm!—A Collaborative That Combines Farming With Spirituality and Social Outreach
Join the Farm! is a collaborative initiative of the DeBusschere Family Farm and the Abundant Table Farm Project (ATFP), a campus ministry program at California State University Channel Islands. On their 40-acre certified organic operation, fourth-generation farmer Paul DeBusschere and his wife, Julie Morris, in Oxnard, California, use a portion of their land for a sustainability and social-outreach program.
Morris, an Episcopal priest, works with young adult interns to explore and integrate food and social justice efforts. A group of five or six individuals at a time live in the on-site farmhouse and serve as apprentices for a year. The Project began in 2006 from the shared interest of a small group of people who wanted to find a way to integrate faith, gratitude and social outreach.
“We did not set out to start a farm or to work on issues related to food systems and our food culture. We set out to be a small, faithful Christian community at a public university,” says Morris. “We each brought ourselves to the table with our particular interests, experiences and resources and one thing led to another and ignited into this farm project.”
While exploring their faiths, tending to the fields, harvesting crops, selling at area farmers’ markets and preparing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes, the apprentices also work closely with the Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice to do advocacy work for undocumented students and to aid area farm workers and their families in finding safe, affordable housing. Join the Farm! also makes food available to local food banks, provides discounted CSA share options for low-income families and is beginning to grow produce for a local school district.