Volunteers till the soil at Shalom Farms

A large and diverse crowd helped Shalom Farms celebrate its kickoff May 2 with an official groundbreaking ceremony.

The first of ten different kinds of crops – including beans, okra, potatoes, cucumbers and watermelon – were already in the ground on the two-acre site, and volunteers and guests got a hands-on experience of what the project is all about: providing food for hungry people in central Virginia.

The plot of land, on a back corner of Camp Westview on the James in Goochland County, will also be a classroom of sorts, teaching inner-city children that food doesn’t come from plastic wrappers at the grocery store.

"We are dedicated to growing nutritious food for the hungry and teaching the hungry to help grow food," said the Rev. Dave Cooper, executive director of United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond. “We are dedicated to the shalom – the well-being – of metro Richmond.

The farm is the brainchild of United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond but includes a number of United Methodist partners, including the Richmond District, Virginia United Methodist Housing Development Corp., Wesley Housing Development, the Communities of Shalom and the tri-district camp at Westview. Other partners include the Society of St. Andrew, the Blue Sky Fund, First Contractors Inc., The Central Virginia Food Bank, William Byrd Community House and the Virginia Cooperative Extension agency.

“It’s amazing how these partnerships have grown,” said Cooper. “The Shalom Farms network is already at work across metro Richmond and we expect that network to grow.”

Dr. Jonah Fogle of Virginia Cooperative Extension said local agriculture extension agents are actively involved with the farm. “You’d probably underestimate the level of effort that’s already gone on to bring together a very large coalition of people.”

“We’re excited about having the farm here,” said Blanton Youell, mission coordinator at the camp. “It’s another chapter in the good works that Westview wants to do as we move forward into the future.”

Farm manager Rob Moore said his learning curve was about an hour ahead of the volunteers he was teaching how to work in the soil. “It’s a new opportunity for us,” Moore said. “The food produced here is going to the people who need it, and that’s how we take care of God’s planet.”

– from the Virginia United Methodist Advocate


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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