30th May 2012 | Leah Kostamo | 1 comments

Sowing the A Rocha seed in Canada

The theme at church this past while has been “the Good Seed” and our pastor has spoken of the good seeds of the Kingdom – seeds of love and justice and grace that are sown in seeming obscurity and randomness, but grow like invasive weeds, big and strong and vibrant. Anyone who has been around A Rocha for any length of time knows that this has been our story around the world. And it’s been our story in our particular corner of the world in Canada.

Fennel seeds © Howard Cheng

Fennel seeds, by Howard Cheng


It all started 17 years ago when Peter and Miranda Harris came to Vancouver to teach a class at Regent College. From that class and subsequent meetings around the city, a ragtag group of ‘Earth-loving Christians’ gathered around coffee tables and on bird walks to see if the A Rocha dream could take root in Canadian soil.

It started small enough – our first part-time staff member, Karin Boisclair-Joly, worked in a cupboard under a stairwell! When Markku and I joined Patrick Lilley and started as A Rocha’s first full-time staff and directors we upgraded to our basement. Our first events often drew no more than five to ten people at best and we struggled to meet our tiny operating budget. Four years later we landed at our first Field Study Centre on the Little Campbell River in Surrey, BC. Suddenly the seed had germinated and the plant had taken root. Though still a fragile thing, the mustard seed of that first vision had grown a stalk and branches and the birds and beasts (read: interns!) were finding refuge in its shade.

Over the years we’ve been astounded by the myriad of folks who have found their way to us – folks from around the world and right next door. Folks who have helped us restore salmon streams, open the wonder of creation to thousands of school kids, and grow bushels upon bushels of organic vegetables for local families and those living on low income.

And the mustard seed has self-propagated. Another Centre sprouted in rural Manitoba, an urban project working with the marginalized is thriving in Winnipeg, a community garden network that stretches from coast to coast is flourishing across the country, and, most recently, a phenomenal new Centre in Surrey, BC has staggered us all in its proportions and possibilities. We couldn’t have plotted this growth. The Sower sowed the seed of the A Rocha vision in the fertile soil of a few naïve souls who formed that first Board of Directors, volunteers and staff, who together believed that creation care as Christian mission was a calling worthy of our lives, the Spirit watered and remarkable fruit has been born.

We are happy for our blogs to be used by third parties on condition that the author is cited and A Rocha International, arocha.org, is credited as the original source. We would be grateful if you could let us know if you have used our material, by emailing [email protected].

Categories: Stories
Tags: Canada
About Leah Kostamo

Leah Kostamo is an earthkeeper and storyteller who is passionate about helping others live lightly on the earth from a place of joy and hope. For the past twelve years Leah and her husband Markku have spearheaded the work of A Rocha in Canada. She is the author of Planted: a Story of Creation, Calling and Community.

View all posts by Leah Kostamo (11)

One response to “Sowing the A Rocha seed in Canada”

  1. Júlio Reis says:

    Wonderful story, and such serendipitous growth! I can offer no better comment than these words of Jesus, of which we’ve just been collectively reminded:

    “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4.26–29)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.