Do you ever feel helpless about all the problems in the world? There’s so much suffering. You can’t solve it. Even thinking about it makes you feel guilty. Isn’t that an awful feeling?
Five years ago, a small group of us in Fairview got fed up with that feeling. We got the bright idea of doing something very simple to help our neighbors in need: Grow food. After all, 17.5% of people in North Carolina—one sixth!—live in poverty. 25% of children in Western North Carolina—one quarter!—sometimes don’t have enough to eat. Let’s do something about that, we said. Let’s grow food and give it away!
We found some land, named our project The Lord’s Acre (the name of a similar grow-food-to-give-each-other effort in this area during the Great Depression), and broke ground. Right away, scores of people rolled up their sleeves and joined in: moving rocks, planting potatoes, pulling weeds. Others donated much-needed money and supplies: everything from a tractor trailer load of turkey manure to a port-a-john (and its maintenance!). So many people jumped onboard. It was truly beautiful to see how people wanted a hands-on way to help each other and were grateful to find it.
And help we have. In our first four years, The Lord’s Acre has grown over 34 tons of fresh, organic produce—and given it all away. We’ve fed people at The Veteran’s Restoration Center, Helpmate, the Welcome Table, and more. Most of our food has gone to local food pantries, where it is truly appreciated. Food pantries provide a wonderful, caring service, but for practical reasons, almost all the food there comes in a can or a box. Getting fresh produce to eat at the pantry has been a great boon to hundreds of clients.
The Lord’s Acre has also taught scores of people—from children to seniors—how to garden. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” We’re teaching more and more people how to grow food for a lifetime. (How did so many of us today lose this skill? Our grandparents’ generation had it.) We’re helping other groups learn how to start their own garden projects and coordinating regional fresh food efforts. And now we’re trying to buy the six acres around us—along with the half-acre we’ve grown all this food on—so we can expand in even more ways. For instance, we’ll start a community garden so people without land can have their own garden plots. After all, what good does it do to teach a person to fish if he doesn’t have a pond?
The Lord’s Acre is growing food, yes. We’re growing community, as well, one where people of all sorts of background learn to work together and share together.
Let me invite you to join. No one of us can solve the world’s problems. But we can all help each other, right here where we live. The simple act of working together to feed each other—it’s basic, it’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it’s important. Gardening together grows food, and a whole lot more.
So please join The Lord’s Acre. You can learn about volunteer hours by signing up for our newsletter at www.thelordsacre.org. Donate to help us keep going or, better yet, help pay for the six acres that will greatly increase our impact. In fact, if you make your donation to The Lord’s Acre by April 30th, the Feinstein Foundation will match your donation – so donate right away! Or consider starting a garden project where you live (we can help).
It’s a way to help each other that’s simple, effective, and truly—and wonderfully—down to earth.