INCUBATE, STORIES

Courage and Knowledge to Move Forward

Jennifer Berlyoung   |   March 26, 2019
Jennifer BerlyoungJennifer Berlyoung

In September, the NBA Incubate Initiative welcomed its largest SENT Seminar cohort yet! The annual four-day training opportunity equips Disciples social entrepreneurs of faith for leadership and change as they nurture emerging health and social service ministries. This project, Harmony Springs Farm & Garden in Akron, Ohio, grows fruits, vegetables and herbs for the local community and aims to turn the garden into a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and community garden.

My experience at SENT Seminar was absolutely amazing and has jump-started the trajectory of the church’s garden project. The Harmony Springs Christian Church Farm and Garden opened in 2016 as a ministry of the church in order to bring fresh produce to the local community. A significant portion of the weekly harvest has always been donated to a local food pantry for those in need. The garden expanded slightly in 2017 to approximately 1/5 an acre and nearly 200 plants, increasing produce donations to 40% of the weekly harvest. It was at this time that we pinpointed the call to open a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – where members of the community who can afford to, will receive a basket of weekly vegetables and fruits for a set price and will also take part in tending the garden. Those in need will receive vegetables solely for their time spent tending the garden.

In 2018, the Farm and Garden continued to donate a significant portion to the community food bank and started to refine a vision, in addition to the CSA, to invite foster children, youth, and families to take advantage of the garden. In this space there is opportunity to experience love, hope, and healing through the planting and harvesting process.

Pastor Fred Rogers (the well-known “Mr. Rogers” to most) once said, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” Here at Harmony Springs, we are more than happy to step up to the plate, reaching out to help.

Attending SENT seminar has provided me with the courage and knowledge to write out a five-year plan with confidence. Before attending the seminar, I could have never guessed what a blessing NBA Incubate Initiative would be for our project. I learned about setting up a 501(c)(3), how to select key volunteers and board members, effective fundraising, and strength in leadership. The ability to look back at handouts, my own notes, and online resources is indispensable. I owe a debt of gratitude to the NBA Incubate Initiative!

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The NBA incubates new ministries, supporting social entrepreneurs of faith who are serving their communities in a variety of innovative ways and empowering these Disciples-led health and social service projects to focus on growth, impact, and sustainability. Learn more at nbacares.org/incubate

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