Originally published in the quarterly ExplorerSpring 2014 edition.

1511361_10152588300904046_1767971351_nMichael Kellett led 10 youth (and three parents) on a mission trip to Shalom Farms at Westview on the James in Goochland County. After a quick, fun lunch at Moe’s, we boarded the church bus and headed out to the farm. Along the way, we sang camp songs and rounds and Michael gave us the Bible verse Amos 5:24 to research and tell him what famous person used it in his speeches (Hint, hint, wink, wink: it’s MLK Day).

When we arrived, we met Farm Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Steve Miles. Steve told us all about Shalom Farm’s mission and the people they served. Shalom Farms is a regional food security and community development project of United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond. It was begun as a non- profit community farm project with the goal of increasing food security in the Richmond area. The program focuses its work in low-income, urban neighborhoods like Church Hill and other places around Richmond that Steve called “food deserts.”


Steve gave our group the assignment of unrolling as many 900-pound hay bales as we could and pulling old crops for use as compost in the spring. The idea was to roll out the hay over an area of about 50 feet by 150 feet and then spread chicken manure and spent crop over the top to mix in with the hay. About half of us rolled out the bales and the other half pulled and collected spent Brussels sprouts plants. Thankfully, we never got to the manure part, but we worked up a good sweat rolling out those bales.

1609660_10152588290969046_1274121434_nOf course we still found time for some fun – chasing the chickens, climbing on the remaining hay bales, and posing for pictures on the farm tractor. It was a great way to spend an afternoon in the fresh air and doing good work in the service of our Lord and our brothers and sisters in Richmond.

IMG_3193Thanks to all who participated: Michael Kellett; Alex, Robert, Elizabeth, Tom, and Catherine Franck; Abigail, Madeleine, and Andy McAllister with family friend, Jude Diederich; Bobby Hubbard; Lindsey Stevens; Lucy Thornton; and Colleen Trott.