Rev. Heber Brown III is the pastor at Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland, predominated by African Americans. The 38-year-old shares that he observed that the church members suffered numerous diseases ranging from hypertension to diabetes.
He explains that he similarly noticed that many of the diseases were caused by obesity, which most of them developed from unhealthy eating. Brown further shares that other than praying for them, he has felt the need to intervene by helping them eat right.
Brown started gardening on a 1,500-square-foot plot of land in front of the church. Today, that garden grows numerous food crops, which yields about 1,100 pounds grossly donated to feed the community.
Brown, who has gone on to collaborate with other Black farmers to realize his goals, says:
"It was amazing. We saw attendance bump up in our worship, we saw a great energy … and it went so [well] here, that I wondered what would happen if we could spread it through other churches and create a network of churches that do the same thing."
In 2015, Brown launched The Black Church Food Security Network to spread awareness about the importance of empowering the black community, which is commonly sicker and more impoverished than the non-black population, through farming.
The initiative is now commonly appraised by people all over with Brown disclosing that there are "people contacting us from all over" offering to help regardless of their religion or locations.
Now, Brown is much more concerned with helping churches utilize the space they own to meet their needs and link volunteers and farmers to various communities.
For Brown, supporting, not leading, is the most productive strategy.
"If we are strategic in being courageous subversives for each other, then I think the world that our children will inherit will be better than the one that we're in right now", he says.
Image credits: Heber Brown III