When church members are suffering from diet related illnesses, what does one Pastor do? Well, a couple of years ago, Rev. Heber Brown III decided he needed to do more than pray. Brown now a 38-year-old pastor at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland, seeing the lack of his congregants to things that should be basic for any human, such as regular access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods, he decided to start a garden on a 1,500-square-foot plot of land in front of the church. Today, that garden grows everything from summer squash to kale, and harvests 1,100 pounds of produce — all to feed the community that meets weekly to worship.
Rev. Brown made the word become alive by applying faith with action. He turned to seeds and started a garden on a 1,500-square-foot plot of land in front of the church. Today, that garden grows everything from summer squash to kale, and yields 1,100 pounds of produce — all to feed the community that meets weekly to worship.
Rev. Brown also partnered with other farmers in the area to bring pop-up markets to the church after Sunday service. They have seen growth in attendance to their worship service. There is great energy all around. Due to the success of his Initiative he wondered what would happen if the same could spread through other churches and create a network of churches that do the same thing, and in 2015, Brown launched a grassroots initiative. The network currently operates at more than 10 congregations in Baltimore, most of which are located in the city’s “food priority areas.” There are also participating churches and farms in D.C., Virginia and North Carolina — and the list is growing.
His goal is to meet a need on both ends of the spectrum by supplying under-served communities with the food they need, while moving and marketing the food produced. Merging faith and food may seem unconventional to some, but Brown said every time he talks about connecting churches with agriculture, he gets “ready amens and strong head nods.”
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