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Growing a Better Food Pantry

BY RELEVANT ISSUE 54 / LIFE November 10, 2011

Gene Archibek was one of several Saddleback Church volunteers helping to prepare 175 acres of property for a new satellite campus and retreat center. But, as he was walking the land, he saw an abandoned tractor that took him back to his childhood on the farm. “I come from about four generations of farming. I ran away from it when I was a kid. I couldn’t stand it,” Archibek recently told The Christian Post. At that moment, he said God showed him a new plan for the property.

Since that day, Archibek, with a federal grant donation of 800 bags of seeds, has transformed the property into a successful organic farm ministry that supports the church’s food pantry program, which serves about 3,000 people a month. The farm’s crop now includes fruits, vegetables and herbs. The land is maintained by volunteers who show up every Saturday morning to weed, till, water and harvest the plants. Recently, the farm delivered 200 pounds of tomatoes and 80 pounds of zucchini and squash to the food pantry program.

Such organic farming ministries are becoming more common as the awareness of healthy eating grows. One such farm, cultivated by volunteers at NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Mich., delivered 12,000 pounds of produce last year and hopes to exceed that by 3,000 pounds this year.

“One of the hardest things for the families is that they are not able to get fresh produce. Everything the pantries give out is canned or dried. They usually don’t have the ability to give out fresh produce,” Archibek said. “The ministry gives people the ability to eat fresh food.”