The farmer in this instance is my husband, Brian. He is still closer to the “enthusiastic novice” stage than the “ready to solve world hunger” stage, but he gets a little better every year. The first year after we were married he planted tomatoes, basil, cilantro, and broccoli. The rabbits ate all the broccoli and a lot of cilantro overnight, so he put up a chicken wire fence around the plot and that solved that. Last year he built a small raised bed and once again the rabbits attacked until he put the fence up again. This year we have the raised bed, the fence, and about 3/4 ton of leaves that have been decomposing in the little compound all winter. Our lease doesn’t allow an actual compost heap.
I got an email from Louisville Grows a couple days ago alerting us it was time to order compost and potting soil. We also buy our starter plants from them. Louisville Grows is a local organization dedicated to promoting urban agriculture and forestry. They promote home gardens, community gardens, and urban tree planting among a host of other sustainability projects like CSA shares. Even as dabblers, they have taught us a lot about locally grown food and how food grows, or doesn’t.
You can’t plant a seed just anywhere and expect it to thrive. Generally it will try to grow, but if there isn’t enough sun, or enough water, or enough nourishment in the earth it will struggle and maybe even die. The best way for a seed to grow is in fertile ground that receives what it needs to promote life.
The parable about the farmer who threw seed on all kinds of ground is one that we can still relate to today. We can watch seeds thrive, or struggle, or die right in our own yards. But when the disciples asked Jesus what this story meant for them, he told them that the seed represented the word of God.
The truth is that the word of God will try to grow anywhere it is thrown, but if it is thrown among the rocks it struggles. If weeds grow up around it, they can choke the word until it dies. Still, if the soil is good – look out. In Luke 8:15 Jesus says, “But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.”
Those who receive the word of God with the fertility of honest and good hearts will bear fruit with patient endurance. It doesn’t sound very good to think of our hearts filled with compost, but if we let the trash in our hearts break down and compost it can make our hearts a fertile place. Then it is up to us to tend that word, to nurture it and let it grow so that in time and with patience it will bear fruit.