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09 - How Faith and Farming Intersect

Aubrey Seiler Seth Shaffer


In an increasingly urbanized society, farming continues to play a crucial role. In this interview, Seth Shaffer and Aubrey Seiler share how they came to be involved in agriculture and farming. They discuss getting started in the industry and methods you can use to integrate agriculture with mission and soul-winning.


  • May 16, 2019
    12:30 PM
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Copyright ©2019 AudioVerse.

Free sharing permitted under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 (US) license.

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Since the beginning of time farming has played a crucial role in society but farming and Christianity intersect Hi I'm Joel Mowbray and you're listening to the learn and share podcast in today's episode I speak with Sesay for an hour on farming Christianity and. Seth ank you so much for joining the podcast and today we're going to talk about farming and what farming that just sounds like something that they used to do our great grandparents used to do before World War 2 But obviously we still need food and I believe that God and you believe that God wants for me to be brought back as a means of ministering to other people and as well as growing our church and to mentor young people so before we do that though before going to the questions when we start with you Seth just tell us how you got into farming and why you love it and why you're doing it well our I always wanted to be a farmer and so growing up I was born in South Florida in a city and. Obviously that's a city you don't have a lot of agriculture happening right there but that bug was always in my the back of part of my brains and I want to be a farmer one day and my parents like that there's no way we can be farmers we don't have the money to buy 10000 acres of land and combine and tractors and all this stuff. Because at that point I'm that was our understanding of agriculture and so I was like OK so that that was still in the back of my mind so I continue growing and we move up to Tennessee and. Probably as any any young kid I want a horse and I'm a present well we don't have the land right now but but maybe maybe and so I keep I keep going out when I want to horse I want to horse so finally we get a horse or I get a horse and like Wilkinson he's got a horse now we need someplace to put it so we went ahead and bought 24 acres of property as a whole we've got 24 acres now so we've devoted a large part of it to the horse and with the horse came chickens and goats and sheep in our back as in llamas and all that good stuff but still we have a we have a very large area to grow produce in and we've always had a garden for ourselves but it's like every year that we were there that garden kept expanding a little bit more little bit more 20 to try new things out and finally one year it's like there are way too many vegetables for us to eat for us to can for us to freeze we should probably look in doing doing a farmer's market and my ears kind of perk up at that oh does that mean we're farmers. And so we had a family meeting and my parents at that point they were like you know we had all that and a little bit more about farming and we were like you know if we want to do this that's great but we're going to have to actually pitch and do this each one of us. At that point I was a senior in college and I was taking the one agriculture class that southern admin's university offered. And so I am getting out of cultured school my parents are now talking about starting a farm I'm like oh man this is heaven on earth so we went for it that year we went to a couple of small farmers markets nothing major and then the next year we really scaled up and so we started going to the one main farmer's market in the area and I guess you could say as far as from a home perspective that the rest is kind of history. Awesome thank you so much for showing our brain when you tell us a little bit about your experience but also tie in a little bit what maybe God has to say about it in the spirit process to say about why we should be involved with farming in your experience yes sure actually that was I had heard such story before and so listening to history is like wow but it's kind of sort of what happened in our scenario. Except it was my younger brother who was taking the initiative he apparently had farming in his genes somewhere and. He started into it when he was about 14. And he's like as up when it was gardening there's a big difference between gardening and farming and maybe we'll address that in a little bit. And I wasn't really sold on the whole thing I was going on the track towards doing videography and design and I actually went out to Wiemer to do a media internship out there and was out there I started reading the book education and I was really convicted about what the book education has to say about the importance of a lifestyle centered around the land and actually when I was out there reading through the book education that I decided that I wanted to jump in with my brother and get on this farming bandwagon so thanks so much for sharing Seth you work at so that with so that I miss University now give us a little details of what you do and how you got into OK so yes i run the pharmacist at Southern admin's university and how I got into that was. I graduated from Southern with the BE A in history and obviously my parents are are starting this farm at home I'm very heavily involved in helping them with that as I OK So is there any education in agriculture outside of like a B.A. or something to do with high school or what because I'm not doing another B.A. I'm done with my 4 years of college serve my time and so I started looking online and I found that there was an online master's program in sustainable agriculture through Green Mountain College I was like hey this is perfect I can do my master's online and I can still work at home at the farm and maybe I can find a job in the area so I can pay for the Masters so. I got a job at Southern I'm doing the Masters and I had taken this one agriculture class when I was there as a student Mindy and Philip Weigel were the people that were running that class within the international development major and so they got a call to go to the mini union and they're like well we can find somebody to teach international development that's a piece of cake but when it comes to the agriculture class you kind of need some type of background and experience to do that there was already a small high tunnel and a quarter acre farm already on campus that they had started with the class they're like So if you're getting your master's you're going to have the credentials to teach at the BE A level are you interested in this I tried to not let the drool come out too heavily because I'd been itching to get my hands on the farm and size like yes I would love to run the farm said well if you're going to run the farm you have to teach the class to. So why not bring it on so I teach the agriculture class there every fall semester and then I run the farm year round where for Season Farm which means that we grow during every season of the year so like right now we have your lettuce collards kale Swiss chard spinach those type of crops going in the summer we obviously have all your summer produce. AUBREY You know somebody might listen to this and they were like oh that's cool that's great Those are your testimonies etc You know but I've been you know like I want to do this I don't do that you know tell us a little bit about the benefits and also maybe touch on the different I mean obviously gardening and farming is little bit different you can also sell your garden produce it's more like for personal use etc And this is not as about farming this episode is just about agriculture in general and the benefits for the person as well as for a means of missions tell us about the benefits of being involved with gardening and farming for the set for oneself and also in missions. So the benefits of being involved in agriculture at any level for yourself I'd say one of the 1st benefits is the fact that you get to eat fresh food the food that we get in our grocery stores is not fresh Usually it's an average of 2 weeks old that's traveled over 1500 miles to get to that location and so the flavor of food out of your home gardener out of your farm is going to be. Times better than what you get in the store and of course the higher nutritional value and all those kinds of things also if you're being physically active outside there's huge benefits that come from that physically as well as mentally emotionally I've had a lot of benefits from that I know sometimes when I've been working on stuff for so long it's really nice to just be able to set my computer aside and go outside and work and prep of that plant something you know she's like clears your brain and makes your back that feel better and those kinds of things as far as from a mission aspect I you know we've been involved in agriculture for the last 6 years or so and so that's a question that we're constantly asking ourselves is how can we take this to the next level as far as mission because there's so many ways you can being gauged mission with farming whether that's who you interact with with your personal clients whether it's we've had so many people approach us asking us to do presentations on agriculture so an educational component with that you can start bringing in ideas about creation in the world that God has created and being good stewards of the land that God's give us and Silvan very slowly in fact one time my brother and I were asked to come present at a Native American youth meeting we had a bunch of young people coming together and they asked us to come to a presentation on agriculture and we got to interact with them and explain basically our faith the sensually and how that impacts our agriculture and taking care of our bodies taking care of our families taking care of the land that God gives us and we know how in the world do you ever have a conversation with a bunch of teenaged Native American kids you know about. Being Christians essentially as a living that's just kind of one example of what you can do with it as a mission Avenue south to tell us a quick story an example of how I recalled her being involved getting your hands dirty has benefited your spiritual maybe even take us to a certain time a certain place when you're a bit discouraged or just how it's benefitted you set tells a story about how gardening and get your hands dirty has benefited you spiritually or emotionally or physically when I was really young I always wanted to be outside for the very beginning years of my life I was born in a city I was starting to be raised in a city so there's not really a lot of area for a little kid to tear out the front door and go running around thankfully all that changed once we moved to Tennessee and with agriculture it's like you know going through college having taken the agriculture class and even today when I'm teaching it you were able to work in an office for X. amount of hours during the day and then oh it's class time so you had outside you're able to leave everything that you were doing and you're able to get active you're able to you know it's like it's been a it's been a busy day working I don't really want to think about that meeting I have tomorrow or this thing that I have to prep or whatnot but hey for an hour and 15 minutes I get to be outside with my class with my crew and you know we get to pick strawberries in the spring I mean how cool is that you know it's like an instant gratification is like you get out there and it's like oh man the sweetness when you're eating the stuff it's like it changes your perspective on life because like you're getting fresh air sunlight you're going to move and you're going to eat some really good produce just like Aubrey said anything you eat just about anything you eat from your garden is going to taste 10 times better than anything that comes from the store. And so I would say for me it's it's you get to leave the drudgery of being indoors and it's like well OK is sunny Is it windy to step outside it's like that that boost of energy that just hits you because you're outside and you're actually able to physically work are very for a listener who listens to this is a you know what like I'm tired of being cooped up inside and I want to get involved in forming I want to get involved in gardening maybe even just starting a little little bed in your window maybe just growing some you know parsley in a little pot and your in your kitchen window what can they do to get involved how can they get started like literally what do they do where they Google where they look up. Yeah starting small is a really important. There are many ways that you can get started if you've never done any kind of growing before and you don't really want to get into like hardcore agriculture you just want to do something for yourself and stuff in pots that's a really great way I know of people who do like a tomato plant in a pot and they grow that during the summertime and they get it fresh tomatoes from their pot or basal depending on where you are basal can grow really really well you want to plant something that gives you encouragement sometimes you can plant things and it dies like off or get it you know a low maintenance plant start up which tomatoes just so well anyway is that complicated here but yeah start small start with really simple steps you can Google it You Tube It has a great resources for you know how to grow this or how to grow that my brother spends a lot of time on You Tube like hey I've got trouble with this what I look and put it in there how to grow tomato plant in a pot and start there even if it's one plant and just get a shot and then scale up because I find that when we start big we usually fail big and then we don't ever want to have some people like myself have this Mattel if I don't do it right you know I'm a pot caster so I start packing I get all the expensive gear when reality can just start simple and easy and you can learn and it's OK to start small you don't need to you know you're producing produce for Whole Foods right off the bat you know exactly you won't it will not happen you know it takes it takes practice and what's really cool about that is it that teaches you the lessons of patience for example is that you have to do that said What's an object lesson when your favorite object lessons that teaches about God's character about his love or any other spiritual object lesson that you've received from just being outside in the garden Well I think with agriculture not only are you able to work with your hands but every year it's something different every season it's something different so you can have let's say 5 different crops that you're growing out there one of those crops is going to fail you don't know which it's going to fail you don't really have any control over that. But it fails OK I have 4 of the crops that I can fall back on the next year you go out there and you plant those same 5 crops again and of crop that failed on you last year it goes bonkers you have okra coming out years and I think for me the spiritual lesson in that is it's just like us God has a has a plan for our lives and he's like OK so I want to do X. Y. Z. Well guess what we just bombed that plan royally it's like OK that's fine if you're willing to work with me we'll give that shot we'll give that plan another shot and hopefully next year next month 10 years down the road. That plan will will be accomplished so it's that for me I quit as being like you know me as a farmer I can't really give up on my crops I have to figure out how can I best grow this same way with God he's organise OK So how what's the best way that I can work with this person and he tries different ways different avenues of approaching us and if we're if we're willing to be worked on by him and then it's going to be a success. For where you are but. I think the 1st pop to my mind is wheat and the power of cultivation when I heard cultivation growing up I always thought I didn't was exactly sure what that is but cultivation is making sure that you take care of the weeds when they're small because if you don't take care of the weeds and they're small they're going to be so much harder to take care of when they're big and it's just like sand in our lives if we can you know make the right choice when the wrong temptation presents itself it's so much easier than just leaving it and letting it grow in our hearts and then it's so much harder to kick later. So when you've been growing your stuff tell us about selling our stuff maybe give us an example of an interaction that you have somebody and you were able to be a blessing to them when you're out there promoting your product or produce some of the produce that we grow fatter goes to different restaurants and so a lot of the times if you're interacting with chefs you're getting to interact with people that are a little bit little bit rough on the edges they use every word in the book they. They're a special type of person let's put it that way and so. Usually you know when I come in the very 1st time you know I've got my card and it says that your farm at Southern admin is universally so they read the card as they had been. Watching those people that you're real healthy you eat your greens you don't eat any meat yada yada yada and so that right there that opens the door and it's like yes in a in a nutshell yes we are those people but it's so much more than that and so I mean what's a very briefly give a synopsis shall we say of what it means to be an Adventist and and what it means to have God in your life and I guess for me I don't try to preach it I just try to do it more like in a conversation style of setting like we're doing now and just leave it at that and if they have more questions they're definitely going to ask them their chefs they're not shy. But otherwise you know maybe that's the end of the conversation but there's been in my mind there's been a seed that's been planted and what happens to that seat after that well that's up to God See that's implanted no pun intended no pun intended. What are some aspects of farming that you would say is like the hardest thing the challenges of somebodies Listen to this you know you know what I do want to try to grow something at home or even like start a farm I want to go into agriculture What are some lessons that you've learned some challenges what's the hardest thing that you can let them know so that they know ahead of time. I would say one of the hardest things about being in farming more as a career as a lifestyle is the fact that it is so time consuming and you have plants that rely on you for survival in many ways whether that's water or fertilization or weeding or harvesting there's so many different ways that you engage with your with your plants and if you you can't just up and leave and I know a lot of our generation we like to be able to just jump up and go whenever we want to order fresh produce on Amazon or yeah exactly and being a farmer requires a tremendous amount of dedication if you're doing it you know more for a career if you doing a garden and you know or your pot plant in a pot it's not as much time and dedication but if you're going into it realize you are going to spend pretty much your life working with it because it's it is it's a 247 job really in a lot of ways what's your favorite thing about farming. I think one of my favorite things about farming is interacting with my clients. I love being outside and I love working with my hands but the people interaction right now at where we are at in our business stage we interact directly with or with our clients and so every week I see 40 to 60 people that I would have no other reason to see otherwise and be able to have a conversation with them get to know them better get to see how much they're enjoying our produce get to see how much they own the farm themselves like like oh yeah that's our farm it's better together farm like those are our farmers and that's really fine and then the friendships that build from there so whether it's like we had a client that passed away this spring and they invited us to come with a few no we went to the funeral and there were a whole bunch of our other clients that were there because everybody seems to know each other. And you know they're just like oh wow you kids came out like that means a lot to them coming to our Christmas concerts coming to our house to share supper with us I mean building those friendships and relationships all because we can offer them something to eat that we've grown ourselves it gives you to keep going and to be willing to keep putting in that kind of dedication south what is some aspects of forming that would surprise the listeners I think one of the things that still surprises me to this day is. You can do all the planning you you can do you know you prepare for the coming season you get your bed tray you order your seeds you make a schedule for when you're going to plant stuff so you have a continual harvest and then the middle of the season comes and you have 30 different things that ought to be done now you have 30 different crops that need to be harvested you need to state those tomatoes you need to do more fertilization for the squash plants you need to get the next round of squash started you need to get the 3rd round of squash in the ground all this has happened today going to be late crops are going to die it's just one thing after another and every year it just amazes me of the ton of different things that you need to do so I think Time management is is very very critical I love how many how many object lessons and life character building lessons there seems to be with gardening and there's a lot there's lessons that we can find anywhere in life but it seems like really that God is using I mean even Jesus uses agriculture as illustrations all the time and just some of the lessons about patience about you know planning ahead and character building in the hard work I think that you learn from doing these things in closing let's let's turn to spiritual the spiritual eyes farming and agriculture a little bit specifically when it comes to the 3 messages God is called to take that messages to the world that God uses farming as an illustration for you know he says literally I'm going to reap the harvest is going to come with a sickle right. Let's ask the proctor question 1st and then let's spiritualize and draw a lesson from it but how does farming actually help spread the 3 Angels' messages I think one of the ways and this is always something that kind of that I get a little bit maybe it's one of my pet peeves or one of my frustrations is that within the Christian community at large there seems to be an incredible lack of a steward Leaman talent. And within the dream tools message. There's the idea of worshipping a God who created the heavens and the earth and with that creator came the command to take care of the world that we have and I know a 7th Day Adventists we believe the world is soon you know to meet it's in Christ is going to come but in the meantime Not only are we to preach the message of a crucified risen and soon coming savior but we're also supposed to lead by how we live our lives lives that exemplify as such good stewardship of our of our world the land that we've been given to taking care of our animals our families of our bodies you know so it's kind of like this living example that you actually I think 7th Day Adventists should be at the top of when it comes to when someone looks at them and they say those are some people who care about their land they care about their bodies they care about their communities because farming is it's not just about having a piece of land that you grow on it's about the way you believe it's about the things that you prioritize in your life and that you care about your family you don't want to you want to make sure they're healthy physically and mentally and emotionally you care about your community you care about your local church you care about the land and the and I mean it's just like there's so many things it's like it's almost like being able to live part of the 3 engines message every single day of your life because you believe that God created the heavens and earth therefore you're going to live in a certain way I think one of the biggest things I've I've discovered growing up is that you're always being watched it doesn't matter what you're doing and so with that knowledge it's like OK so I have the opportunity to show the world what it means to be a good steward you know not just of the land that I'm growing on not just of the crops but of my own body you know if I'm if I'm out at the farmer's market. And man it's been a long day it's been a hot day I'm hungry and I'm thirsty so I'm going to go get my my Diet Coke and I'm going to go get the. Piece of food I can find from one of the food trucks and I'm going to be eating that and then somebody comes by and they're like so why should I be purchasing. Your your bell peppers or whatnot it's like well you know they're healthier for you and they see me eating and drinking really nasty disgusting stuff so it's healthier for me but why are you eating that. You know that that's kind of like a slap in the face so trying to make sure that what I do for myself personally is exactly following what I'm trying to preach in my message of eating healthy and taking care of your body in closing we want to spiritualize this object lesson the Bible says the harvest is plentiful literally. But the laborers are few in the gospel work but also in farming there's not a lot of avenues not a Christian farmers out there give us a couple sentence appeal to young people to get involved to serve God in general but specifically in the area of agriculture Well I think it's it's pretty simple if you if you're looking for a career move that is going to challenge you both mentally and physically that I think I hope for is probably be the route that you should take is going to challenge you physically and that you're going to have to go out there you have to work the land and even if you have a tractor you're still going to have to make sure those implements are put on there and there's a ton of hand work that is going to go on with withholding your rows in places that the tractor can't get into you're going to have to haul. Heavy loads of fertilizer or water or other amendments around your farm or your garden it's going to challenge you mentally because you've got to do a lot of planning you've got to work with customers that maybe they're not all that appreciative of the product that you have there and maybe they're really going to rub you the wrong way and if you want to truly be a Christian and act like a Christian you can't. You can't just let them have it you have to you have to maintain your cool and in the in the I think a very very much a literal sense I quite use wood and just maintain that calm calm demeanor which sometimes is not very easy to do we have the organic food industry non G M O V Yannick vegan all of these things are really becoming popular with our generation. Especially on the coast but even across I mean I live in Veliko Homa and it's becoming something that people are the food industry as we know it is it is a pretty sorry situation and the world is crying out for something better and when you look when I look around at the people who are actually doing it not everyone but most of the people they're in they're not Christian they're they're into New Age stuff for the Colts or all these kinds of different things I mean being a farmer those are the kinds of people we interact with that are you know our peers. So having a Christian young person with the idea and the values of Christianity we need to take take agriculture back from really the world or in many ways the devil it does it's highly spiritualized we listen to there's a really great resource that we listen to every year that talks about the food industry and food and what we need to do as far as growing in all these kinds of things and yet they weave in all this new age spiritualism stuff everywhere you turn yoga meditation all these kinds of things it's time we rise up and we have counsel from you know 150 years ago saying avenues to meet this is a call to us to to get and serious there is nothing demeaning about being involved in agriculture at the last 6 years has taught me that being involved in agriculture you need to be extremely intelligent you need to be extremely business savvy you're not you know we have this picture that farming is for maybe the less intellectually capable or you know I you get the vision of the man in the straw hat and the overalls and the you know it's you know God is calling for a breed of administration farmers that can just show the world what I or culture is really supposed to be like so if that challenge appeals to you. This is something you should consider one of the resources that is really a great way to get started and get connected with other avenues young people actually who believe this is the avenue Segre cultural says association we have a conference every year we also have a website that is continuing to be developed but the goal of that is to to rally a movement really of young people who have a passion not only for their faith in God but for the world so that would be a good place to start it's Avenue AG dot org is the Web site you can check it out you can also head up son and myself on facebook if you have any questions we'd be happy to talk with you that way as well and yeah it's a journey take it slow but why not right thank you thanks for listening don't forget to have subscribe and share this episode with your friends to learn more check us out and learn and share podcast dot com.


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