When Mike and Bethany and I first imagined Plainsong Farm, we really focused on what God might do on these ten acres. We dreamed of fresh vegetables, gatherings for worship, and learning opportunities that brought together Scripture and science. It’s exciting to see that even in our second growing season, these dreams are coming true.
Our fresh vegetables go to shareholders and to neighbors through North Kent Connect and North End Community Ministries. We started that in Year One and it continues today.
In Year Two (right now), we started fairly regular gatherings for worship. The Blessing the Fields service was the first worship of the year. Sabbath at the Farm continues regularly through August. Twice a month, we welcome people to the farm for a time of rest, prayer, worship and dinner.
We didn’t know what to expect when we hosted the first Sabbath at the Farm. But what we received was better than anything we could have expected: prayerful gathering, honest conversation, caring community. Also, a delicious dinner – totally unplanned potluck that just happened to have all the appropriate food groups represented (including chocolate). We’re excited to keep going with this series and see where God leads it.
We’ve also been piloting a curriculum with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, teaching in their church garden each Thursday evening. Called “Pray, Learn, Grow,” the curriculum involves a brief time of prayer, conversation on Scripture and spirituality, science-based learning about our local challenges, and has hands-on work in the garden. We’re learning from this pilot program about what future programs we might hold at the farm and what type of curriculum churches might find useful to teach in their gardens. This pilot program is helping us get ready for our next big goal: to launch educational programs at the farm in Year Three, the 2018 growing season.
When we dreamed of the farm, these were the components we dreamed about: good food, simple worship, learning communities.
Here’s one thing that we didn’t dream about: national impact.
But that’s what is happening.
As I look at my fall calendar, it is evident to me that God is bringing fruit from this farm to far-flung places.
I’m preaching and leading worship in North Carolina in September. Why? Because of the farm ministry.
I’m speaking on a panel in Chicago in October. Why? Because of the farm ministry.
And that’s completely separate from the honor of being founding members of the Honore Growers Guild (another national-impact story). Or the book I have to finish for Church Publishing Incorporated within the next five weeks: Resurrection Matters: Church Renewal for Creation’s Sake. Or another thing that is incredibly exciting and I can’t talk about it yet. (Yes, that was a teaser.)
Why am I being invited to do these things? Because of the farm ministry.
I thought it was possible that people would be interested in what we were doing here. I didn’t think so many people would be interested so soon. Honestly, it’s kind of overwhelming. In a good way!
Last year during the growing season the Edwardsons and I were just focused on survival. I left a congregational ministry position in the beginning of June 2016 to be able to give more attention to the farm ministry. Mike and Bethany had never grown so much food for so many people before. We just wanted to make it through the growing season intact. We figured we’d reflect once fall came on where we were going next.
This year is different. Mike and I are talking about goals for the coming year, smack in the midst of the growing season. We can see that this ministry is viable; our challenge is to make it financially sustainable. (You can help right here.) It’s exciting to realize we’re in scale-up mode and also terrifying. We’re grateful and scared. (Or maybe it’s just me.)
Do I know what I’m doing? Not yet. Am I grateful to be following in the steps of the apostles before me, who also set out on the path God provided them without knowing the way?
Yes. Yes I am.