Meeting the climate crisis with urgency and love

Climate Land Leader Meg Nielsen, who serves as a deacon in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), wrote the following Care for Creation devotional in a recent synod newsletter. Thank you for sharing, Meg!

Healing Leaves 

“The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Gen. 1:12

Meg & Glenn Nielsen embarking on a third year of tree planting this April

Five years ago, my husband Glenn and I decided we wanted to combat the climate crisis by changing the way we use the land on our farm in southern MN. But what did a retired instrumental music teacher and an ELCA deacon, both in their early 70s, know about farming? The answer is: not much.

However, we acknowledged the urgency of the climate crisis and recognized our deep love for God’s good creation and there was no turning back.

During the pandemic we found the opportunity to study and learn and to join an amazing new non-profit called Climate Land Leaders. There we learned that one of the best things a farmer can do is plant trees, put roots in the ground. 

Poplar, dogwood and oak trees ready to be planted

So, in 2021 with the help of our family, we planted 300 trees. It was so dry we could scarcely get a shovel in the ground. Last year after six inches of rain we waded into the puddles and planted 200 more. This year we kicked it up a notch and planted 565 trees in two Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) windbreaks.

Trees planted to create a windbreak

Tree roots hold soil in place and draw water deep into the earth. Trees slow and soften rain as it falls. Trees provide shade to cool the air. Trees break the force of the wind as it blows across the fields. Blossoming trees support pollinators. And their spreading branches feed and shelter birds, animals and people. The good trees God created in Genesis sustain and support us. Trees are truly healing. 

But, growing trees takes time. A fruit tree usually will not bear fruit for three to five years. The life of a spruce tree or an oak can be measured in decades. We likely will not rest in the shade of the trees we have planted. But someone will. In planting them, we provide a visible act of hope for the future. We join the millions of others who care for the Earth, who are concerned about our warming climate. We hold fast to Paul’s promise that “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Romans 5:4

Deacon Meg Nielsen, May 15, 2023

Nielsen farm