‘[Hazelnut Community Farm] would at its core, be a church rooted in nature; a sacred space that engaged deeply with the climate emergency.’ Rev John White, (Founder of Hazelnut Community Farm).
At a time of heightened energy prices, food insecurity and ecological breakdown, Hazelnut Community Farm, is a very appropriate and timely expression of Church.
In just 21 months the Rev John White’s vision for the church plant in Lockleaze, Bristol, is becoming a reality. The church is still finding its feet but is already bearing fruit, and it’s very fitting and deserving that Hazelnut should become our 27th Gold awarded Eco Church!
At first glance and from a traditional viewpoint, this may not appear to be a church space. For a start, there are no walls. But take just a few steps behind a soon-to-close Methodist church and you’ll discover vegetable and flower beds, a peace garden and a newly-mown labyrinth, complete with a chair in the centre for anyone wishing to sit in this contemplative space.
It’s a perfect reflection of, in Rev John’s words, how Hazelnut’s ‘rhythm of worship and teaching revolves around the themes of creator, creation and community’. He explains ‘We teach that all three need to be present to live a balanced life as a believer’. All three are so evident from the care given to the flourishing garden. The team plants and cares for the flora, and the produce is distributed amongst the wider locality and community in Lockleaze and Upper Horfield where many struggle with food insecurity.
Growing on the farm is a community activity – everyone is welcome to plant physical seeds in the garden space and to sow spiritual seeds for the faith and belief that may follow. As well as growing together in the garden, the community also participates in creative crafts and saying evening prayers together at ‘The Table’, their monthly communion.
The community has a vision that extends beyond their two sites. The Big Harvest this autumn encourages people to connect to the season of Harvest by growing food and giving it away as a spiritual exercise and a way to engage with food poverty. The idea is for churches across the UK to be filled with fresh, locally grown harvest offerings for food banks.
Hazelnut is a truly beautiful expression of an organic space in every sense, where ‘the land and its creatures’ – including people – can flourish.
Hear more from John and watch his recent webinar on ‘Using your church spaces for growing food and growing mission’ here.
Join Hazelnut Community Farm for their forthcoming ‘Sustaining Church’ online conference here.