Global Food Initiative grants support community gardens, agriculture in Haiti and Ecuador




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Photo by Jim Therrien

A "high tunnel" greenhouse where volunteers from Osage Church of the Brethren in McCune, Kan., are helping to build raised garden beds.

The Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren has given several grants in recent weeks, supporting community garden projects, agriculture in Haiti, a consultant for assessment of the programs of Fundacion Brethren y Unida in Ecuador,

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An allocation of $4,998.82 will help Osage Church of the Brethren in McCune, Kan., and the Garden Group, in partnership with Project Alternative school and the Lion’s Club, to provide fresh produce to the communities of McCune, Weir, Girard, Cherokee, and Osage Township. The project also assists the school in teaching and mentoring its students. Goals for the grant include building raised bed gardens inside of an existing high tunnel, using funds to cover the purchase of materials, mulch, and topsoil. Church members will provide volunteer labor to build the beds and help care for the plants, especially during the summer break when students are not present.

A grant of $2,000 is going to the agriculture program of Eglise des Freres d'Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti), where farmers have great difficulty finding quality seed. Commercial varieties of seeds from the US are available for non-profit organizations at greatly reduced prices through Seed Programs International (SPI). Agriculture staff of Eglise des Freres will purchase the seed and sell it at cost to 100 farmers who have access to irrigation and prior experience growing vegetables. Agriculture staff also will purchase seed for trial on their own farms, with proceeds to be returned to the agriculture program. Seeds will be provided at no cost for the mothers' clubs run by the Haiti Medical Project, for use in home gardens. This project will be a one-year trial.

A group of youth work at gardening at FBU in Ecuador
Photo courtesy of Jeff Boshart

A group of youth work at gardening at FBU in Ecuador

A grant of $2,000 will hire a consultant to work with Fundacion Brethren y Unida (FBU) in Ecuador. FBU was started by the Church of the Brethren as part of its work in Ecuador from the 1940s to the 1970s. FBU executive director Alfredo Moreno is planning an evaluation of programs with the assistance of an outside consultant, who would report to the annual board meeting in September. The consultant would review current practices and organizational structure to better position FBU to serve the needs of those it serves, with a careful look at financial sustainability. Total cost is $2500, with FBU contributing $500.

A grant of $2,000 goes to the community garden project of GraceWay Church of the Brethren in Dundalk, Md. The congregation is expanding its garden in partnership with an Ecuadorian congregation that has begun meeting in its building. Goals include assisting those facing hunger, specifically the African immigrant refugees settled in the Dundalk community; improving diet and health practices among low-income families; and promoting awareness or hunger-related issues among Ecuadorian low-income families in the GraceWay congregation. Funds will be used to purchase vegetable transplants, hoses, lumber for raised beds, fencing, soil amendments, and other garden supplies. Two previous grants have been given to this project, totaling $2,569.30.

An allocation of $1,837 is given to the community garden project of Brook Park (Ohio) Community Church of the Brethren that is working with local businesses and civic organizations to support food distribution to neighbors in need. The congregation hosts a food pantry and hopes to increase the amount of fresh produce that it can make available, as demand has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The garden has been in existence for 10 years. Funds will be used to purchase lumber for raised beds, fencing materials, topsoil, and other garden supplies. It is hoped that raised beds, or planters, will make gardening easier for older volunteers.

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

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