Global Food Initiative makes grants for community gardens, pig raising, more

The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) has announced several grants for community gardens related to church congregations in various US states. Also listed among recent grant recipients are a pig raising project in Rwanda and a refrigeration project for Navajo families.

A grant of $20,000 has been given to the emerging Church of the Brethren in Rwanda to establish a pig raising project. “One central farm will be built, where pigs will be raised for the first year,” said the grant announcement. “Animals from the farm will be given to families belonging to the Twa–formerly a hunter-gatherer tribe that continues to be a major outreach focus of the Brethren in Rwanda. Each family will in turn build individual pig farms near their houses in their village. Among the many benefits of this project for the community are creation of jobs, education on modern pork breeding, and lower meat prices on the market due to the abundance of pork, leading to an economic growth for all involved.” Funds will build pig barns, purchase animals and feed, and pay for veterinary care.

Lybrook Community Ministries in Cuba, N.M., has received $8,000 for the purchase of solar panels and batteries as part of a larger refrigeration project. “In 2018 a model unit was set up to be used as a demonstration for LCM’s Navajo neighbors and for LCM to gain experience with the unit before installation in the community,” said the grant announcement. “Three community members received training in the installation and maintenance of the units.” Funds will purchase 20 solar panels and 20 batteries to provide refrigeration to 10 households. Priority will be given to seniors or families with infants in the Navajo community. Last December a previous grant provided $3,000 to this project.

Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va., received a grant of $5,000 for a food initiative to jump start its 2019 Farmers’ Market program. “The past two years, through county and private grants, matching funds were available for low income individuals receiving support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase fresh produce at the Reston Farmers’ Market. This partnership doubles the purchasing power of  SNAP dollars and also benefits local farmers,” explains the grant announcement. “This year the matching funds (over $9,000) are not available. In addition to this one-time GFI grant request, the Oakton congregation is seeking to replace the lost dollars in various ways, including local fundraising. Members of the church will also be involved in advocacy efforts to restore the funds for the 2020 Farmers’ Market season.”

New Carlisle (Ohio) Community Garden, an ecumenical ministry supported by the New Carlisle Church, received an additional allocation of $5,000. The garden was established over three years ago in an area considered to be a food desert. It has helped provide educational programs, market local foods, give access to health foods, and supply fresh vegetables to the local food pantry. Grant funds will be used to help pay a part-time student or a person in need of extra money to oversee operations of 10 acres of community garden. Previous allocations to this project include $1,000 in 2017, $7,000 in 2018, and $15,000 in a grant made this past January.

Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren Community Garden received a grant of $5,000 to address the lack of nutritious food in Rockingham County, Va., with the most sustainable practices possible and to provide education about sustainability and nutritious food. More efficient equipment also is needed for an expanded operation. Grant funds will be used to purchase a walk-behind tractor with rear tine tiller and water pump attachments. Another $3,000 allocation to this project supports a garden coordinator for the summer of 2019.

Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren’s community gardening project received a grant of $2,114.45. The congregation has had a community garden for five years, serving an area that recently lost its grocery store. There are other community gardens in town, but none are handicapped or wheel-chair accessible. The goal is to build tall raised beds for those who are in wheelchairs or unable to bend to the ground to work in their garden. Funds will be used to purchase lumber for raised beds, topsoil, mulch, plants, and trellis materials.

Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren’s community garden received a grant of $1,500. The garden was established in 2016 in an area considered to be a food desert. The garden provides green space for the community, opportunities for education, availability of fresh produce for community members, and an avenue for interaction between the church and the community. Funds will be used to purchase topsoil, seeds, plants, fencing, paint, and other gardening supplies. A previous allocation of $3,952 was made in 2016.

Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren received $1,500 to support its community garden project. “Two garden plots will be used to teach youth how to grow and prepare produce, allowing understanding for the nurturing process of organic gardening and how to prepare food from fresh ingredients,” said the grant announcement. “In addition, fruit trees and berry bushes will be planted on the church property to provide fresh fruit and to reduce the amount of land requiring mowing. Funds will be used to purchase a tiller, top soil, lumber for raised beds, fruit trees, seeds, and other gardening supplies.” Two previous allocations have been given to this project, $1,000 in 2017 and $1,500 in 2018.

Nuevo Comienzo/Deerwood Elementary collaboration received $1,000 for the combined community gardening  project of the Nuevo Comienzo Church of the Brethren (Kissimmee, Fla.) and Deerwood Elementary School. “Iglesia de los Hermanos Nuevo Comienzo currently holds services at Deerwood Elementary and has assisted the school by organizing a food drive to help with their Weekend Backpack program,” said the grant announcement. “The garden project will focus primarily on students currently receiving non-perishable items every week as part of the Weekend Food program. The community garden will provide students and their families the opportunity to receive nutrient rich, freshly grown produce to supplement non-perishables.” Funds will purchase lumber for raised beds, top soil, seeds, plants, tools, and ground cloth.

An allocation of $505 supported the attendance of three staff members of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) Integrated Community Based Development Program at an agricultural conference of ECHO held in Jos, Nigeria, in May. EYN covered the cost of two other staff members to attend. The GFI has supported staff participation in ECHO’s agricultural conferences in past years. Ideas learned at past conferences include zero graze animal raising and mulch-based vegetable gardening.

For more information about the Global Food Initiative go to www.brethren.org/gfi .