Not long ago after having read Noah Sanders’ book Born Again Dirt, I made up my mind to work hard to make my homestead productive but also a visually attractive place, too. Sanders wrote that we should be working toward the goal of making our landscapes as beautiful as the Garden of Eden. When I first read his thoughts on this, I dismissed it as a bit of hyperbole. But, as I read on, the thought kept at me that I needed to make my farm beautiful.
Then, one Sunday when I was teaching our adult Sunday school class I heard myself say that we as Christians need to be attractive human beings. I don’t mean pretty or handsome, but to be the kind of people who attract other people to themselves. The metaphor is to let our light shine so that others will be drawn to us.
No sooner had those words left my mouth when I realized, at least in part, what Sanders was saying. Not only should we be managing our landscapes to be productive, but also appealing so as to attract others to see God’s glory in His creation and demonstrate the kind of care that godly stewardship really is.
Think about it. For the same reasons we should be drawing others to ourselves and then pointing them to Christ, our farm or ranch or home should be the kind of place that draws others to it so we can point them to our Savior.
What does this mean? On the surface, this can mean a bit of extra work to ensure planting beds are neat and the lawn is always mowed and the house, barn and shop are in good repair. At a deeper level, however, I believe this means designing, building, and maintaining a place that mimics and leverages God’s design and systems. A polyculture planting bed may look like chaos to the unknowing observer. However, the a polyculture is acknowledging God’s approach to growing things and letting His system design take over … becoming more dependent on Him for the abundance. But, I also think it means creating a place that is peaceful, where it’s easy for people to hear God speak to them. Keeping organized and uncluttered on the homestead is a great example for others to see and a means to help establish order out of chaos. But, let’s not let a narrow view of order restrict our exploration of stewardship creativity as we manage the places God has provided us.
Finally, I believe I need to ensure I work to try to grow or raise exemplary products. I have heard countless compliments on produce that comes from our place and every occasion is a chance to praise God and give Him the attribution He deserves. I recently had someone view a photo of our chickens and she remarked how healthy they looked. I replied that God has been good to us. Yes, even when I hand out cucumbers to neighbors or show a photograph of animals it’s an opportunity to be a witness for the Creator who blessed us with life and productivity.
I have a long way to go to ensure my farm is anything like an Eden. But, I think it’s a worthy sanctification for anyone who has been given stewardship for a piece of ground, no matter the size. Being that good and faithful servant includes what we do with our landscapes.