Arts & Entertainment
Bishop Begley conference highlights sustainable agriculture
Representatives from 11 diocesan parishes were part of an ecumenical audience that attended the fifth Bishop Begley Conference on Appalachia on March 23 at the Cherokee United Methodist Church. The day-long proceedings, sponsored by Catholic Social Services' Offices of Justice and Peace and Economic Opportunity Office (OEO), focused on the theme "Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Economic Development in Far Western Appalachia."
Pictured at left: Bishop Begley Conference participants help build a raised bed garden on the grounds of the Cherokee United Methodist Church. Pictured (from left) Ken Hillberry from the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville; Father Shawn O'Neal, Pastor of St. Joseph and Our Lady of Guadalupe Churches in Bryson City and Cherokee; Joe Purello (CSS Office of Justice and Peace director and parishioner of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Gastonia); and Patricia Tuscany from St. Francis of Assisi Church in Franklin. (Photo by Vicki Dorsey, Catholic News Herald)
Keynote presenter Jim Ennis, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, spoke on the connection of faith to sustainable agricultural practices and the role of the Church in supporting rural livelihoods.
Food served at the event, including the lunch entree of trout, came from local producers, and Catholic Relief Services' "fair trade" coffee and tea were available throughout the day.
Event participants engaged in an interactive panel discussion on western North Carolina sustainable farming and rural development projects and in a hands-on "raised bed garden demonstration project."
The closing session was the OEO Grants Award Ceremony led by OEO Program Director Claudie Burchfield. Five $3,000 OEO Growing Opportunities Grants were awarded to sustainable agricultural projects in the four counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain and the Quallah Boundary (Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians).
Since 2001, more than $230,000 in grants have been awarded by OEO for community development projects in North Carolina's far western counties.
— Joe Purello, director, Diocese of Charlotte Office of Justice and Peace
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