Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

August 2, 2013

Feeding the hungry

Local farmers use Oakbrook Church ground to grow sweet corn for area food pantries

On a 2.5-acre plot south of the Oakbrook Church driveway, a pair of church members grew 68,750 ears of sweet corn to feed the hungry.

The two farmers said they decided last year to be a part of the solution – like their pastor had been preaching at church.

That’s how their project to feed the hungry began.

Well, kind of.

It actually started with a grass problem and a canned food drive.

Brad Downing said he had been thinking about how much money and time was spent every week mowing the church property.

There had to be a way to bring the cost down or at least make the time spent worth something.

About that time, the church had a canned food drive for a local food pantry, and Downing realized the answer to his problem was staring him in the face.

He could turn a portion of the church property into a vegetable patch to grow sweet corn for local food pantries and homeless shelters.

Downing remembers how much he loved going to his backyard as a kid and picking fresh ears of corn for dinner.

He wanted to share that joy with families who don’t have the time, money or space to grow their own.

Downing went to church leadership with his idea.

“They said, ‘If you think you can grow anything out there, go right ahead. That ground is rough,’” Downing recalled.

By that time, fellow farmer Daryl Maple got on board with the project.

The pair teamed up with other area farmers last May to quickly work up what they said was terrible clay ground. They planted the seeds and then waited for a rain that never came.

Last year’s drought destroyed their first crop, Browning said.

Volunteers harvested about two truckloads of corn.

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