Santa Barbara A Rocha Summer Update

Guest ColumnistCommunity News

Just over the hill from parking lot “B” you will find the Santa Barbara A Rocha Five Loaves Farm. The entire 3 acres have been planted out with veggies ranging from Anaheim peppers to zucchinis. Over the past four months (May–August), we have been blessed to be able to donate approximately five tons of top quality organic produce to the hungry poor of Santa Barbara –that’s at least $20,000 worth of fresh food! The farm is a beautiful sight to behold, and it is uniquely filling real needs in our community.

A little over 12% of the families in Santa Barbara live at or below the federally-defined poverty level. To give you an idea as to what that means in terms of dollars, a family of five would need to make less than $26,170 annually. Just over 21% of all children in Santa Barbara live at or below this level. That number is effectively larger when you take in the high cost of living in our area. One of the greatest needs among the poor is access to healthy food. By our donations of high quality, nutritious, organic produce, we communicate that the needy of our community are loved and as valuable as any other member of our society. It’s a concrete way of sharing the love of Christ.

Santa Barbara A Rocha continues to distribute food through the Santa Barbara Community Development Center in Isla Vista on a weekly basis. We have also been distributing produce through Querencia’s Eastside Kids’ Club and Garden Court, an assisted living center for the elderly poor of Santa Barbara, and due to our increase in productivity we have expanded our distribution through Foodbank Santa Barbara. This ensures that the food gets to people who need it most around our community. Organizations and people that currently use our produce coming through the Foodbank include the Organic Soup Kitchen (healthy meals for the homeless, Transition House, and pregnant moms), Food From the Heart (providing meals for hospice and the critically ill), and St. Vincent’s (meals for single moms and their children). What a blessing to be able to tangibly give of our “first fruits.”

Over the summer we also hosted three weeks of Creation Care Camp for 60+ children ages 6-13. Kids experienced a bit of the wonder of God’s creation while learning about local geology, entomology, agriculture, botany and more. We hiked, dug, explored, ate, and planted our way around the area. Each day opened with a memory verse that touched on the topic of the day. For example, the day we studied Entomology, we learned Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! (Proverbs 6:6). We then were led in an activity with a community specialist for that topic. In all, over a dozen community specialists volunteered their time to share with the kids each week.

By now you are probably asking, “How can we get involved in what is going on with A Rocha?” (1) Come volunteer on the farm any Monday evening from 5-7 pm. It was fun having Dave and Paige Chase’s homegroup join us last month; maybe your homegroup would like to get dirty, as well. And there are individuals, like our friend Debbie, who come out almost every week. (2) Contact Emiko Corey (*protected email*) and bring your family or coworkers to the farm some day to help with harvesting, like the Hislop family did a couple of weeks ago. Your high schoolers can get community service credit by helping us in this way. (3) Check out our blog to learn more about what is happening (http://santabarbaraarocha.blogspot.com/). (4) Pray. Pray for the hungry poor who receive this food that their daily needs would be met and that they would experience a deepening sense of God’s love and care for them. Pray for the organizations that we work with throughout our community that our expressions of care and stewardship would reflect well the love of Christ for all creation. And pray for us (Marty Robertson and Emiko Corey) that God would provide our every need as we continue to work in this ministry.