Food Bank Farm
Jim Eichner, of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Redmond, Washington, sees his ministry as a vector for good—and with good reason: everyone affiliated with the Food Bank Farm comes away with a nice feeling and a contribution to the common good—from those who plant, to those who harvest, to those who consume the farm’s produce. Volunteers at the Food Bank Farm take the lead in raising, harvesting and donating the goods to local food banks, fulfilling Jesus’ command to feed the hungry.
By anyone’s standards, Food Bank Farm has been an astounding success. In 2011, the first year of the ministry, twelve volunteers harvested 3,750 pounds of produce—5,000 servings of fresh, healthy food—at a value of $5,625. As the ministry has grown, the scale has changed; by October 2014, midway through harvest, the ministry had hosted over 600 volunteers for more than 1,800 work hours. They had collected 100,000 pounds of produce (400,000 individual servings), at a value of $150,000. All of this has been done on a shoe-string budget: $6,000. This year’s squash harvest, two full semi-trucks, cost $150 in seeds.
The community has been immensely supportive. The squash harvest was accomplished by 275 local business employees spreading out across the land. Additionally, local farmers have donated wheelbarrows, portable toilets, and even their own crops for harvest by the Food Bank Farm. In 2013, a local Girl Scout troop planted pumpkin seeds in the spring and helped pick nearly a thousand pounds of ripe produce in September.
Next season, the church has aimed even higher, hoping to grow as much as 250,000 pounds of food. They will harvest from September through December.