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Logo of AdAgrA 2018: Something Better

"Good" Can be Enemy to "Best"

Bob Gregory


Bob Gregory

Owner/Director of Berea Gardens Agriculture Center in Minnora, WV



  • January 17, 2018
    6:45 PM


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Good evening to all of use is awesome to be in Texas you know this is. The first opportunity that I've had to spend any time on the ground in Texas other than inside an airport and I feel very blessed to have had the experience of Safe travels here with my wife Anita and I have spent. Quite a bit of time just. Enjoying the landscape and considering what is happening here it's amazing to me you know when I started this journey in Adventist agriculture it was in part because I knew there must be something better than what I was doing which was basically peddling poison and working for a large monoculture agricultural interests that didn't really seem to have the interests of the consumers in mind they weren't concerned about nutrition they weren't concerned about food quality it was all about money and I was really weary of that. Even though I felt for many years that I was actually doing service to the public because I didn't know that there was any other way that we could feed the six billion people that inhabited the planet at that time I couldn't conceive of an army of youth or. An army of people that had interest enough in agriculture to consider it as a vocation and to function differently than the paradigm of large scale monoculture agriculture this is the way that I had grown up the Earl Butz era of agricultural policy where we simply wanted to plant as much as we could produce it as cheaply as possible and our concept of efficiency was that it took less than one person to feed over one hundred people in society meaning that farmers made up less than one percent of the population and that's still the case today as the industry likes to tout we considered that evidence of terrific efficiency. As I look at it now it breaks my heart because what it means is we have concentrated all the choices all the decisions and have delegated all of the power over the food supply for most of us to a very tiny handful of people and believe me it's only a handful of people within that one percent that is involved in growing food that make choices about what you and I eat and those choices are not predicated on the benefit to you and I The choices are predicated on what provides the greatest prophet this model of monoculture agriculture has spread across the globe now and is displacing small family farmers all over the world and I see this as a tremendous tragedy and as I address you here tonight I want to offer some praise I want to offer some testimony and then I want to present to you a challenge because frankly you and I as Seventh Day Adventists have had the opportunity to live a legacy of an agrarian lifestyle for over one hundred years. You know all of the references you know all of the Council and if you don't I want to suggest to you that you take time to avail yourself of some of the books that have recently been published councils on agriculture others that have been published expressing in great detail. The calling that we have had as a people for well over one hundred years that legacy. Founded in the biblical principles of Adam being placed in a garden and told to dress and keep it or to serve it and preserve it depending on your translation is as true for us today as it was for him then the Lord placed Adam in that garden so that he would have an opportunity to learn of him in an intimate practical way that simply speaking face to face could not convey Adam was tested in the garden. And when he failed that test he was offered redemption in the garden if we look at the opportunity that we have to work with the soil for our daily bread if we look at the sweat of our face as a mechanism to keep us healthy to really ignite within us a desire to know and love the Lord through practical. Methods of observing his creation and involving our lives with him in cooperation we have opportunity for a deeper understanding and a theoretical or an esoteric understanding Ellen White on her stood this Ellen White recognize that as we have all heard that agriculture is the A B. and C. of education she advocated for all of our educational institutions and what's the first educational institution it's the home she advocated that all of our educational institutions make agriculture the A B. and C. of their studies recognising that there is a richness in that experience there was a richness for Adam and the Garden of Eden there was a richness that the Lord was offering to us also in coming to a deeper understanding of him as I look out here this evening it warms my heart tremendously to see the numbers of people here and I want to take just a few moments to praise the Lord for what he is doing through and with this organisation and with those of you that have committed yourselves to seeing that agriculture reassert itself. And it's role in Seventh Day Adventist education be it in our homes be it in our academies be it in our colleges be it in our missionary institutions be it in our sanitariums Regardless it's absolutely wonderful to see this taking place and I want to remember I want to pause for a moment to remember a man that was helpful to me and coming to understand the role of at agriculture not only in education but in my life personally I'm a man that has spent the last fifty years of my life growing crops I'm a I'm a I'm a man that was was fortunate through God's grace to be exposed to a wide variety of agricultural education and deep understanding about what it takes to grow crops and produce food and to be abundant and to have success but what I didn't learn through that aspect of my career was how important agriculture is to my spiritual life to my opportunity for being the best that I can be for God's service and by His grace and there's a man that was very instrumental in helping me to recognize that when I first went into ministry I hadn't read the book education I hadn't read all of the testimonies I didn't realize at that time the role that agriculture played in Seventh Day Adventist education I just knew how to farm and I wanted to use those skills in farming to further God's work I wasn't called to evangelism I wasn't called to preaching I was simply a farmer that's what I wanted to contribute. And when I first went to the to the college where I served as the AG director for a period of time a swarthy man came walking out to the greenhouse one day well I was there who walked as if he had taken more steps on soil than on concrete and I knew that I had found a friend someone that would understand some of the challenges that I was faced with many of you that are dealing with institutional environments in agriculture are faced with some really. Serious challenges and I was in a situation where I was facing these challenges and I didn't really have anybody but folks that were of an academic mindset to try to. Counsel with to try to find out solutions to these problems it was a very lonely feeling at that time and this man was Bob Jorgensen who happened to be on the board of the institution where I was working in the energy stem cell to me and he said Hello Bob good to me too and we started discussing some of the challenges for the role of agriculture within Seventh-Day Adventists I'm a few years later this was in two thousand and one a few years later in two thousand and four he started holding a series of meetings called True education meetings and the first one that I attended was in two thousand and four in North Carolina at his home church and at that time again in his thorough understanding of the history and the purpose of Seventh Day Adventist education agriculture played a role in those meetings we discussed it we talked about it and it wasn't long after that that he and I talked and number of times about organizing some sort of agricultural conference as some sort of of way to to network with people that were involved in agriculture we knew of a few individuals here and there that were scattered around the country all of them struggling with either institutional roles and agriculture or you know folks like the deicing or family that had been so important in helping to organize this organisation everybody was kind of doing. Their things on their own they were they were being challenged in various different ways and there was no real support no aggregation of all of the resources that we have and Bob decided that maybe along with his true education classes we should also consider adding an agriculture element to those meetings. And in two thousand and nine my wife and I had just gone to to our farm and we decided to hold the true education meetings that are place and to hold meetings with an agriculture component to for the first time and perhaps many many years I don't know when the last meeting devoted to Seventh Day Adventist agriculture was held but I know it wasn't within might membership in the church so we had about one hundred fifty people that came to our place for a few days was very rough around the edges we had a rough gymnasium building where we had old seats that were left behind with the facility that we have as is basically an old elementary school that had been abandoned for about ten years we had poured parties out porta potties out in the back because we didn't know whether the plumbing would work or not the people came and people were blessed and the following year we held another meeting I believe that year we had some of the folks that are sitting in this room common attend and at that point we had outgrown our facility and it was obvious that there was an interest that something was taking root here that had significance and was touching the hearts of people. Moved the meetings to you pines held them there for a couple of years and at that point the Agra concept and the ad agro organization took root and at this fourth meeting I'm just warmed deeply and my heart is swollen in my chest right now as I look out here and see what is taking place I feel so blessed by the effort that so many people have put in to making this happen in the effort that those of you that are attending here have expanded in order to be here it's obvious that something is going on that there is a movement taking place and that the role of agriculture once again is prominent in people's hearts and minds. One of the things that motivated us in recognizing that we needed to do something to enhance the awareness of Agriculture and seven Day Adventist them was a statement that I read when I read ministry of healing two books were very very instrumental in my conversion and opening my heart to the Lord one of them was the great controversy in the other was ministry of healing I often turn there for gems of wisdom that she gave us and one of the gems that is here is on page one eighty three where she wrote that in God's plan for Israel every family had a home on the land with sufficient ground for tilling thus were provided the means and incentive for a useful industrious and self-supporting life and no devising of man has ever improved upon that plan to the world's departure from it is owing to large degree the poverty and wretchedness that exist today that's a pretty potent statement folks I don't know how that could have escaped the minds of people that were were were studying ministry of healing or what appeared to me to have escaped their minds and allowed the role of agriculture to be so diminished within our denomination over time that when I came into the church there wasn't really much of anything happening I am still troubled. By issues that I see as. You know as I was in or drew deuced who has expressed that you know I kind of studied the book of nature before I came to study the Bible and it's still my my my firm conviction that it requires study of both to be well balanced and to fully understand our purpose and our calling in this Christian life. And in my study of nature I came to comprehend that there are lessons there that can be found that you cannot find in the Bible alone there are allusions to those lessons in the Bible but unless we have that practical experience unless we have that practical dependence on the Lord Those are very very difficult things to teach and to learn in an academic setting and I was frankly quite surprised that when I came to fully understand the role of agriculture in Adventist education that it had been so marginalized so suppressed I understand practical reasons why that happened it was expensive some of you that are working in institutional agriculture today are still facing those challenges it's very difficult to train people and generate profit at the same time training costs money and with the globalization of Agriculture and the Green Revolution and the monoculture scale of Agriculture becoming so large it simply became impractical financially for many of our institutions to pursue it and because food was so cheap because of that there wasn't a lot of incentive to pursue it so many of our institutions drop their programs many of them dramatically scaled back their programs and we stopped treating farmers we simply stopped training farmers and to me that's a tragedy you know when Ellen Wright wrote Ellen White wrote that statement most of America was an agrarian society and things were very very different then that doesn't excuse us for ignoring those issues now but part of the difference. That I think is just as important today although we've strayed from it quite a ways as that a person's life particularly a farmer's life was a testimony to his character very unlike the lives we lead today oftentimes he built his own home and it was the quality and the care and the attention that he put into the joints in the wood in the and the framing in the structure and the design and the intelligence of the home that spoke about that man's character the clothes that he wore were often sewn by his wife and similarly the nature and the character of that clothing spoke to the character of the man his life stock how he treated as animals how well he maintained his tools and obviously the grooming and care that was demonstrated in his fields were all aspects that shone like a bright light to his neighbors that there was something unique and special about that family today we all live in clothes that come from Wal-Mart the homes that we inhabit very frequently were manufactured offsite and then moved to the site on a set of wheels or could be found in row after row after row of duplicate types of houses in a subdivision someplace we all drive the same kinds of cars we all consume the same materials we live a life very very different in character from the agrarian life that she outlined. As part of this consequence of the diminishing of the role of agriculture in Seventh Day Adventists and we also lost the connection of Agriculture to the health message tragic loss I've often pondered as I've conversed with some of our health ministers that don't have a background in agriculture don't have an education about how products are grown that. They're so ignorant that they don't recognize that even though if we're making the right selections and choices of foods at the grocery store even though they might be organic they don't have the healthful effect or the nutritional energy in them that we assume they do we're working with very old information because we don't recognize that modern agriculture has diminished and distorted and corrupted virtually everything that's available to us and the only solution to that is by taking more responsibility responsibility ourselves and doing something about it planting that seed we had a very rich heritage in the examples of Madison college in Avondale Emmanuel missionary college and much of that hurted was lost to the economics of the Green Revolution and we're still paying a price for that today. Why don't we closer to home folks why aren't we closer to home. We've had the core message is we've had the core understanding of the light we've had the that the understanding of righteousness by faith we've had everything presented to us necessary for the second coming of our our Savior and our Lord why isn't the here why is it that we're not as we're not more successful in the work that we're doing in our evangelistic outreach in our health work why is it that we're not getting the results commensurate with the investment that's being made. Why is it that so many of us are following ill. And struggling in this very competitive world today as a because we lost sight of that statement from the industry of healing you know it's my firm conviction that all of us all of us should be engaged in some form of agriculture. I'm not saying that we all need to be full time farmers. If we had followed counsel and made a culture of the A.B. and C. of education one hundred years ago we would be very efficient at what we do now we would have the best balance soils we would have understanding's of soil microbiology and and soil mineral amendments far exceeding those of the language and university system we would have health giving foods we would have our own varieties of foods we would have a very very different order of things and what we have today but as a consequence of that over looking we're now looking to the world for much of our information I'm sad to say that I was educated by the industry I learned a lot about efficiencies I was exposed to a lot in terms of opportunities for seeing what works and what doesn't work but I was educated by the industry and yet I'm looked at for answers and solutions to problems that we have today because of that education and I am just now cutting my teeth and starting to understand that there is a totally different paradigm by which we must function there is a totally different priority that we need to establish when it comes to agriculture in our lives. The challenges of the American food supply today are enormous we've been numerated those through many of the many of the conferences over time and for those of you that want to look into that a little more deeply you know those those recordings are out there and available I don't want to enumerate them now but they're there and they're real and they're becoming more and more serious every day and it's time for us to finally look back to that statement and understand that we all need to participate in agriculture we all need to take responsibility for what we're feeding ourselves and providing to our communities and using as a method of the entering wedge as part of the health message doesn't mean we ought to be full time farmers. If we were efficient and were effective we can do that in a relatively small amount of time we're all called to do other things to have medical missionary work we have literature work we have Angeles to work to do I'm not saying that we ignore those and all become farmers but we must get past this point where we have been saturated by the world's concept of consumerism because in large part that's what you and I are today for the most part our consumers were very well trained at that because we're well trained at that it even complicates things for those of us that are working with agriculture because it's all about price we have to produce our crops inexpensively we have to sell our prize our crops competitively a lot of what we look at through that economic lens is really distorted when we look at the fundamental purpose of what we're doing that is nourishing human beings but yet today we're so well educated as consumers and I'm speaking across the board here not just not just those in the world but us Seventh Day Adventists we're consumers we're trained consumers and that has given us a handicap to some degree in comprehending how best to go about making something better in our fields and on our farms part of that consumerism emphasizes that we need to be profitable we've got to keep our costs now we've got to keep our yields up the standards that we use for measuring what we sell are the same as the standards of the world so if we need pounds of product to sell to to meet our budgets that's what we're after we're not doing much of a better job at all of producing food that is more nutritious we haven't undertaken some of the aspects of agriculture that are necessary for us to have true success in growing high quality nutrient dense fully nourishing food. That's going to take generations some of you that are young people out there have a tremendous challenge ahead of you tremendous opportunity ahead of you and we're not alone in doing this because the world is catching up to us in that sense with the awareness that the American food system is broken that the foods that we're eating today are not nutritious and there's an immense amount of energy and effort being put into this process too from other resources non-government organizations benefit foundation the U.S.D.A. itself is investing tremendously in small scale agriculture but we've got to consider the unique position that the Lord has placed us in and we have to consider our unique role and our unique methods that must be yet developed our unique understanding that must be yet developed and these opportunities provided us with a great horizon of possibilities in terms of research and as my heart is full tonight in looking at what has taken place here in the course of just the last few years with this interest in agriculture. My challenge as for the next step to be taken that we all roll up our sleeves that we all begin the process of activity necessary for us to achieve the goals that we really want to achieve I don't want to come to you anymore to quote what the United States Department of Agriculture or the local extension service recommends for doing when you deal with late light on your apple trees and I want to have some solutions I want to have some varieties of apples that don't just have resistance but have fabulous resistance immunity that taste good and that are nutritious far above anything else this is what we're called to folks this is the uniqueness of our spiritual Israel today. This is the example the opportunity for example that we have today and we can't meet this we can't meet this challenge by following the ways of the world it's not going to happen it's not going to happen if we continue the consumer habits that we've developed over time. It's not going to happen until we humbly and prayerfully approach our gardens on our knees and make that a source of fundamental at tension as if it were life and death because it is it is it's life and death and the sense that we need to nurse these bodies or we're going to be a sick as everybody else there's no question about that we need to get on our knees and do it especially if we're working in medical missionary work because you don't know how to do the work unless you know how to start with the soil that's where it begins it's critically important that we take up this challenge and at least begin to participate and the opportunity to learn these lessons and the Holy Spirit will be our assistant will be our guide the Lord Himself will help show us how to do this some of you may have read about the vision Ellen White had of Avondale of a furrow of soil opening up before her were Jesus himself explained to her the properties of the soil if we prayerfully and humbly approach our gardens with an awareness that we don't know anything he'll show us and saying this I want to encourage those of you that don't have knowledge yet or are on the track of really trying to seek what the world has to offer as knowledge if you do that without perfectly considering the things you're in danger the winds of doctrine that are blowing through agriculture right now are violent winds they're every bit as violent as the winds of doctrine that are blowing through the church. And there is as much air if not more out there than there is truth when you start picking up gardening magazines and you start just haphazardly acquiring information it takes discernment and where does that discernment come from it comes from about the Lord will instruct you and guide you and my prayer for us and for this organization as we move forward with all of the good things that are going on is that we don't settle for good that we move forward to the best because so often in our consumer society and our relative comparison of things in our lives good becomes the enemy of the best because we are too easily satisfied for those of you that are fascinated by some of the information that you hear here I encourage you to prove all things use biblical principles when it comes to comprehending what it is that you should do and I ask all of you to pray for this organization to pray for those that are making a renewed commitment to understanding more about agriculture because we need those prayers I'm standing in front of you today with over fifty years of of agricultural expertise and what I can tell you is that I am astonished at what I don't know I am absolutely stunned by what I don't know I know how to get a good given result by following certain protocols but I don't know how to grow things the way the Lord really would like to have a screw things that's the challenge that we have and that's the challenge that you have. And it's only through Him and by seeking the Holy Spirit and coming together and supporting each other and edifying each other in that process that we will have a chance at a greater result wherever you can whatever opportunity you have to advocate for agriculture do it whether it's in your home congregations with your brothers and sisters discussing a church garden whether it's participating in a community garden whether it's just opening up your your personal garden at home to friends and neighbors wherever you have a chance to promote it do it wherever you have an opportunity to advocate for prayer for this process for this concept do it I don't understand why we're still here I've heard lots of a discussion about because our hearts aren't prepared properly and there is very much truth and many of those things too but I do know this I do know that we have not all staked our claim to our piece of land and tilled to Sorel and follow the economy that was given to us as the best economy we have not done that and as part of our. Resistance to do that impacted the rest of the work that's delaying us from going home we can pray about that and see what the Lord tells us but what I do know as we're we haven't done what we've been asked to do that's obvious to me and brothers and sisters I want to go home I want to go home. It's not going to get any easier for us it's not going to get any prettier in this world and if we can do our part by participating with that book of nature with our hand in the Lord's and his guidance through His Holy Spirit about what we're doing in concert in the garden that's where I derive my strength that's where I that's where I find. Peace and Joy I have he's always there to strengthen us to comfort us and to instruct us. And the burden is our the burden is ours to seize that opportunity let's pray. Father in heaven we are so blessed to have your word. We are so blessed to have had the examples written the instructions the insights the inspiration of Ellen White not just in her words but also in her deeds not just in aspects of doctrine and science and helping us to understand your word but in the practical physical things of daily life she asked us to live lives of simplicity and purity she showed us that a piece of land a family a place a commitment was necessary for us to have the best economy of life help us Father to do our part to find your way of meeting these needs in our lives so that we can bring about the second coming of Jesus Christ so that we can fulfill the promise that you have given to us and be a blessing to our neighbors and to provide healing to our communities abide with us Father bless us as we toil in this endeavor. Give us courage give us strength give us persistence to follow your call to ask Jesus to bring you. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons leave a Visit W W W audio verse or.


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