In 2018 Deep Run East (Perkasie, PA) Mennonite Church started an initiative to encourage new ideas and vision for the use of our abundant resources. We were challenged to find new and innovative ways to serve God with our resources, including our church buildings and grounds. I remembered an article I saved from the Mennonite Weekly Review, dated June 10, 2002.
The article told how farmers in Minnesota donated the proceeds from their crops to the Food Resource Bank (now Growing Hope Globally.) Growing Hope Globally helps subsistence farmers grow their own food, earn an income, feed their families, and improve their livelihoods. Farmers in North America help farmers in need around the world in an effort to end world hunger.
Our church is blessed with 40 tillable acres of land, so I suggested we consider a “Growing Project” with this resource of land. In December 2019, the congregation affirmed the idea and responded by allocating existing funds and making contributions. Team leaders for the project, Phil Nyce, Henry Rice, Mark Schmidt, and Kermit Yoder, began planning for the 2020 planting season. It was determined that soybeans would be our crop. Our fields were planted on May 27, 2020.
In April, just before we planted the soybeans, Joe Dise and his uncle, Dean Overholt, approached our team about wanting to help out families in need locally and through Crops for Hunger due to the pandemic. Their idea was to plant extra sweet corn to harvest and sell or give to local people in need.
As a team we were all in. But with COVID-19, some of the initial ideas for distributing sweet corn were not feasible. A roadside stand seemed to be a safe way to distribute the sweet corn. We offered the corn without cost, free if you needed or for a donation to Crops for Hunger. The sweet corn produced $1,333 for our Crops for Hunger project.
For years, Deep Run East has been providing support to programs in Honduras. Growing Hope Globally has a program in Honduras implemented by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). One of our members, Joel Kempt, is on staff with MCC in Honduras and was directly involved in formulating the program. We decided to support this program with the proceeds of our sweet corn.
November 7 was finally the day that our soybeans were harvested. God blessed Bucks County, PA with a wonderful growing season, timely rain, and warm temperatures this year. The crop exceeded our goal. With a 62 bushel per acre average, we harvested 2,496 bushels of soybeans. We arranged for our crop to be purchased by Weaver’s Toasted Grains in New Holland PA. Church member, Dale Overholt, and his employer, PV Transport, generously hauled the crop to market.
When we received the payment from Weaver’s Toasted Grains, the check was written for more than the agreed upon price. The owners wanted to help out and generously contributed to the project as well.
The total proceeds from the sale of the sweet corn and soybean crops totaled $33,499.79. We are grateful for the many people who helped out with this project, through prayer, labor, materials, and money. We were blessed to have used our resources to help others utilize their land to feed their families and communities throughout the world.