The Harvest Fields Project is an idea that has been bouncing around for many years as we've been working in north St. Louis city. Some way to connect agriculture with mission and through that create opportunity and community. This idea is finally starting to take form.
The centerpiece for the work of the Harvest Fields Project will be the Farm at Sozo Valley Ranch (you can read more about the ranch here). The farm will utilize permaculture principles in order to reflect the natural patterns and wisdom of nature. It will be designed to be an accessible, healing space where people can reconnect with the land and the natural world and produce food that can be shared with those in need. We're convinced that working closely with God's designs in nature can help us learn about His designs for ministry and life-giving relationships.
Amy and I have never farmed. We tried gardening several years ago, and it didn't go well. So we've been diligent to get trained and educated and ask for help from anyone who is willing.
Our first step was planting some beds at Fresh Starts Community Garden, managed by Rosie Willis. As covered in the previous blog, we reconnected with her through our home repair efforts. We picked out three beds and planned out our crops. Our whole family repaired and prepped the beds, and planted a mix of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. We also have a couple mushroom logs started. Currently, the beds are bursting with green and we even have a few zucchini and tomatoes starting to pop. We hope to install a few bird houses and a little library in the garden, to assist the natural and relational ecosystem.
We attended Seed St. Louis' "Community Agriculture Conference", where we heard some inspirational speakers and got our feet wet with the agricultural world. One of the speakers was Tyrean Lewis of Heru Urban Farming. He had wonderful stories of making a midlife course change into agriculture on the north side of St. Louis. He's been able to create jobs for the people who would meet him in the alley behind his first garden site. We toured his farm and helped cover some of his beds.
Our family worked for a week at Millsap Farm, a family-owned organic farm located outside of Springfield, Missouri. The Millsaps are wonderful people, and have found a way to unite their farm, family, and ministry in a way we hope to emulate. This trip was transformative for us, and showed us that a farm can be more than a place that produces food. It can be the center of a community, a place of healing, and a source of spiritual and emotional nourishment.
We visited the farm of our friend Jordan Zimmerman, who also helped us work on some widows' homes. While he's a large-scale commercial farmer, it was good to see a completely different way of agriculture.
We've begun volunteering at Earthdance Organic Farm School in order to make more connections and get some hands-on experience.
The rest of this year, we plan to continue studying, learning, and training. We're working on a return trip to Millsap Farm, and hammering out the details for our future ministry using agriculture to meet people on the mission of Jesus.
If you'd like to learn more about the Harvest Fields Project, or donate gardening and farming equipment or educational resources, you can contact me at email@example.com