Here’s How This Pastor Is Changing The Game By Fusing Faith And Farming
One Baltimore pastor is battling food insecurity and diet related diseases with an initiative that fuses faith and farming.
Rev. Heber Brown III, 38, made a garden in front of his Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland which grows about 1,100 pounds of produce that feeds the church community each week. Brown began his initiative as The Black Church Food Security Network in 2015, partnering with black farmers to create farmers markets after Sunday service each week.
Since many low-income black communities do not have access to quality produce and black farmers run into issues selling their products, the pastor’s network uses faith to bridge those gaps. Now, The Black Church Food Security Network has spread to other churches in Maryland, D.C, Virginia and continues to grow.
More than just putting healthy food into the hands of people, Brown has noticed a change in their worship experience.
“We saw attendance bump up in our worship, we saw a great energy … and it went so [well] here, that I wondered what would happen if we could spread it through other churches and create a network of churches that do the same thing,” he said in a WTOP News report.
People from all races and belief systems have been contacting Brown to take part in the program that helps both those suffering from food insecurity and the farmers whose livelihoods depend on them being able to distribute their crops.
“We have people contacting us from all over — different religions, different parts of the city. … The phone is always ringing, the emails are always coming in from churches saying, ‘Hey, we want in,’” said Brown. “They see it as important, they recognize that farmers markets are great, but there are gaps that farmers markets are not filling, and African American farmers, in particular, have unique struggles.”
More than that, Brown sees this combination of farming and faith as a Biblical practice.
“Spirituality and agriculture have a deep relationship that is outlined in sacred scripture and that is practiced in weekly gatherings in worship spaces, and so I have no problem getting people to buy into this vision,” he said. “Food is always going to be a priority for our communities. And churches and faith-based organizations, I got a strong hunch, will always be here.”