Book Review: Planted by Leah Kostamo

Dan Bennett reviews Leah Kostamo, Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling and Community (Cascade Books, 2013).

I had the privilege of hearing Leah Kostamo speak at a Regent College Creation Care conference, an experience that prompted me to get her book, Planted. Leah and her husband, Markku, helped to establish the first Christian environmental centre in Canada with A Rocha.

In the style of a memoir, Kostamo walks through many issues related to the stewardship of creation with a deep sense that this is God’s earth and we as humans are given responsibility for its care and flourishing.

She explores the practice of knowing and caring for the earth around you, biodiversity, the delicate art of eating in a sustainable manner and the truth about organic food. Kostamo works through theological realities like welcoming the stranger and God-centred simplicity all in the context of real life experiences living in community. Planted is an interesting read as Kostamo interjects many related experiences, stories and funny details from her family’s rich history with A Rocha.

Unlike some environmental authors who express their disdain for anyone from any other perspective, Kostamo comes across as humble and inviting, engaging the reader while pointing directly to the Creator as He works in and through His stewards to care for creation. Rather than give multiple examples, allow me to share a paragraph from the chapter “Mindful Meals”(p89) to give you a sense of this book.

At A Rocha centers we don’t have a chapel, we have a table. The meal is a place of community, fellowship, and invitation. Conversations range from favorite films to theology to birds sighted on the morning walk to the number of eggs laid by the hens that morning to more personal family histories.

The table is a safe place, a neutral ground for dialogue, knowing, and communion. Is it any wonder that the New Testament is full of accounts of Jesus eating meals with people (and with the most unlikely people)? Is it any wonder that Jesus chose a meal to commemorate the abundance of his love?

I highly recommend Planted as an entertaining introduction to A Rocha and also as an expression of living in creation care in such a way that is accessible for each of us. It is an easy read but carries deep truths that will appropriately disturb our accepted consumptive lifestyles in favour of living well for the sake of the kingdom of God.

Dan Bennett,
Southside Community Church

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