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Event | 25 March 2023 10:30-17:00

Integral Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture

Key Details

Pembroke College
Transdisciplinary Research

A one-day exploratory dialogue drawing together a range of academics, practitioners (current and aspiring), and those with a deep interest in the connection between agriculture and spirituality from the viewpoint of Catholic Social Teaching.

Pope Francis’s 2015 teaching on care for our common home, Laudato Si, calls for a “sustained and diversified agriculture” as one of the key measures that the world now needs to forestall devastating climate change. It mentions the vital importance for farming of a healthy biodiversity, asks that sustainability” be understood as regenerative, and sees the need for new forms of cooperation and community organization to defend small farmers and local ecosystems (#34, 140, 164, 180). In Let Us Dream (2020), Pope Francis calls for more land to be opened up to food-growing for local consumption using organic, regenerative methods, creating biodiversity and healthy soil.

Despite Laudato Si ’s broader impact both on the Church and on policymaking, Pope Francis’s emphasis on the ecological conversion of agriculture has so far received little attention. Yet few doubt that industrial farming is a major contributor to environmental degradation and climate change. A growing regenerative agriculture movement across the world is challenging those methods and offering an alternative model of food production and land use, one that works with nature, builds healthy soil, creates biodiversity, and at the same time produces high-quality nutritious food for the benefit of local communities and often involving them directly. By judicious use of technology but avoiding heavy tillage, fertilizers and pesticides, regenerative farms are increasingly productive and profitable, allowing for high yields from small areas yet caring for the land.

The “Integral Ecology Farm” project at the Laudato Si Research Institute aims to bring together the worlds of regenerative agriculture and the Church in the conviction that each has much to teach the other, and in the hope of future projects of collaboration. The Church is an institutional landowner — from small plots attached to parishes to large estates belonging to religious orders — at a time when regenerative agriculture is constrained by lack of access to land. Could church organizations host farms whose values and methods offer concrete examples of Laudato Si’ in action? Could such projects allow people detached from creation to care for it, to recover an agrarian understanding of God at work in the world?

At the same time, can regenerative agriculture benefit from the insights and spirituality of integral ecology, and the traditions of listening and contemplation? Is there a “Church-supported agriculture” alongside a “community-supported agriculture”?What kinds of partnership are possible? What is already being done, locally and globally, and what can be learned? What does a Laudato Si farm look like, and how might parishes and institutions help create and host such a venture?

This event is organised by the Laudato Si' Research Institute in collaboration with the Farm of Francesco.


This event is by invitation only due to limited space. If you would like to know more about the project and enquire about attending (there will also be an online component for those unable to attend in person), please fill out this form.