The Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren has made several grants in the last two months. The grants support long-term hurricane recovery for farmers in Puerto Rico, church-related community garden projects in the US and in Spain, an orchard in Nigeria, a refrigeration project of Lybrook Community Ministries in New Mexico, and Brethren participation in an ECHO East Africa Symposium. Find out more at www.brethren.org/gfi .
An allocation of $51,605 provides long-term recovery support to Puerto Rican farmers who suffered damage to their farms during Hurricane Maria. The proposal came with the recommendation of the Puerto Rico District’s disaster response committee and the coordinator for the response, Jose Acevedo. The GFI manager has maintained close communication with the associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries to maintain coordination between the two programs. Previous allocations for this project, made in August and September last year, total $36,399.
“The needs in Puerto Rico are extensive and the agriculture sector of the economy is the backbone of rural communities on the island. This sector was also hit the hardest by Hurricane Maria,” said the grant request. GFI manager Jeff Boshart visited earlier recipients of financial assistance and learned of the positive impact, both economically and spiritually, on their families and their churches. He also learned of the interest of Puerto Rican farmers in giving back through sharing their knowledge of tropical agriculture with sisters and brothers in neighboring island countries such as the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
A grant of $15,000 supports purchase of a used tractor for New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren’s community garden project. The project recently was offered and took control of an abandoned nine-acre lot owned by the school district. Local officials and the school district are active partners in this project with the ecumenical community of New Carlisle. Some produce is donated each year to a food pantry and some is sold at a farmers market to raise funds for the project. Staff at a nearby school will be involved with providing educational opportunities for students to connect with the gardening project. After purchase of the tractor, any excess funds were to be used for materials to build “high tunnels,” which are low-cost, movable greenhouse-like structures that allow for year-round vegetable production. Previous allocations to this project were made in March 2017 and in March and April 2018 totaling $8,000.
An allocation of $4,455 supports the community garden project of the Gijon and Aviles congregations of Iglesia Evangelica de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in Spain). The project began in 2015 and has supplied many needs in the community. This is the fourth and final grant for this project and has support from the leadership of the Church of the Brethren in Spain. Previous grants given in May 2015, April 2016, and January 2018 total $13,532. Funds will be used for hoses, sprinklers, seeds, land, and tractor rentals.
An allocation of $5,260 supports installation of a fence around an orchard at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The orchard is located on land owned by EYN and operated by the denomination’s agriculture staff working in the Integrated Community Based Development Program (ICBDP). The orchard was established earlier this year, but newly planted grafted fruit trees were stolen and staff anticipate animal damage in the dry season. The orchard serves multiple purposes including demonstration, production, and income generation for the agriculture department. Vegetables will be produced with the use of drip irrigation between trees while trees reach fruit-bearing age. The grant funds supplies, transportation, and labor.
An allocation of $3,000 funds the set-up of one complete solar and refrigeration unit for Lybrook Community Ministries in Cuba, N.M. Director Jim Therrien has been seeking several partners for the project and has applied for grants from non-Brethren sources to cover the costs of installing more units in the homes of elderly members of the community who need refrigeration for medicines and families with young children who need refrigeration for milk and formula. The model unit was to be set up at one of the ministry’s guest cabins to be used as a demonstration for Navajo neighbors and for the ministry to gain experience before installing other units in the community. Three community members have received training in the installation and maintenance of the units. The grant purchases equipment and supplies and helps provide pay for three workers.
Allocations have been given to support attendance at an ECHO East Africa Symposium by Brethren from the Democratic Republic of Congo ($2,990); representatives from THARS (Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services), a Brethren-related organization in Burundi ($2,490); and Brethren from Rwanda ($1,830).
The ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) East Africa Symposium takes place Feb. 12-14 in Arusha, Tanzania. It offers the opportunity for agricultural development leaders from the three communities to interact with Christian development organizations from across the region, and will serve as professional growth for representatives who are working in GFI-supported agriculture projects.
To support the work of the Global Food Initiative, give online at www.brethren.org/gfi .