Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church
224 Parktown Road, Warrenton, NC 27589
Contact: Rev. Bill Kearney, email@example.com
Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church is located in Warren County, a Tier 1 county with high rates of chronic disease. In partnership with Dr. Molly De Marco of the UNC- Chapel Hill Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church has for over five years planned and implemented health promotion programs to improve the health of the church, the greater Warren County community, and the climate. Through their unique community-based participatory research partnership the “Harvest of Hope Garden Project” was developed (2010-2011) to examine the impact of participating in a community garden project led by 25 adults and 25 youth; the result—an inspiring Sacred Foodscape.
The partnership has since collaborated with three more rural Black churches through the United Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Association to develop and implement a two year (2010-2012) gardening project “Faith, Farming, and the Future Youth Mentoring Project” to increase access to good food, encourage increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, and impart job readiness skills to 60 youth in Warren County.
The Faith, Farming, and the Future project was a joint research project between Coley Springs, Cooks Chapel, Jerusalem Baptist Church, and Union Grove Baptist Church and the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The project recruited 60 youth participants who were paid up to 5 hours per week at $8.00 per hour to explore the resources and challenges in their food systems and then develop a project to address those issues. The youth were divided into research teams led and mentored by community leaders under the direction of a field coordinator. The study sought to look at how this process affected knowledge and attitudes about farming, gardening, cooking, consumption of fruits and vegetables, participants health, and empowerment.
Some of the challenges identified and projects developed by the research teams were: (1) Lack of access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables -> grew church gardens, shared produce with church and community members, and sold locally grown vegetables at a produce market; (2) Unhealthy food choices at church events -> developed 20 health ministry toolkits for local churches; and (3) Unhealthy food choices at local schools ->raised money and solicited seeds and supplies to support a vegetable garden at Warren County High School, and created a healthy lunch and snack choices brochure for students at the elementary schools.
The Harvest of Hope and the Faith, Farming, and the Future project builds on community assets/strengths (land, youth, farmers with experience and equipment) and is a model project for other resource challenged rural communities across the state.
We have seen that adults and youth know more about gardening and are more willing to try fruits and vegetables, which could contribute to them consuming more. Participants in the program ate more fruits and vegetables and we saw some weight loss.
-Written by Rev. Bill Kearney (firstname.lastname@example.org)