There are a lot of really great things happening at Victory Acres these days!
The tomatoes are producing better than we've seen in years! 298 lbs. just today!
We have a new building going up - a 16x20' that will house the LT-15 woodmizer woodmill.
The porches are finally getting rebuilt on the old farm house.
The cabins have been repainted.
The Nehemiah Project is inching forward.
We have a new mission statement for it: "The Nehemiah Project exists to make disciples by investing in those who have a genuine desire to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ in Christian community through work, accountability, training, and redemptive relationships." We will soon have a new co-director, a ministry partner moving to Victory Acres to help us with the program. We have a new program handbook and house rules that are being developed and written with help from Victory Acres CSA member and licensed counsellor, Don Hickman. We are only $3,500 from our goal of $13,800 to begin, and we will soon be accepting applications to the new program.
While there is a lot of great things happening, it wouldn’t be an accurate picture to say that it has all been a "bed of roses." The work this year has been more challenging than past years for two reasons: 1) a lack of help, primarily because 2) a lack of finances. When we started the year, we had a very modest budget of $41,500. It was scaled down from $55,000 last year, but we felt we could make it work. The numbers were based on an anticipated 120 members participating in the CSA. We only ended up with 85 members this season, so instead of $41,500, the CSA only brought in about $28,000. It wouldn't take a math major to see the problem.
A large part of the downturn came from members that didn't return because of discontinuing delivery to Muncie and Fishers. Some came from members that didn't return because of our change in focus this past fall. In spite of the lack of funding, we have soldiered on, getting limited volunteer help from time to time. We depended on our new CSA manager Tom Hauck, his wife Cindy (serving as a volunteer), Terry Himelick (another full-time volunteer), and two apprentices - Ryan Barker and Andrew Miller to carry the load and make it happen. They have done a valiant job and all deserve a gold medal (or a purple heart depending on your analogy.) While the fields are not the pristine, clean, weed-free zones that we like to see on postcards, they have done their best to plant, cultivate, harvest and distribute several hundred pounds of produce, and they are still at it.
Farmer Tom is putting in 70-80 hours on a regular basis for half of the pay he used to get at his 40 hour/week job. He is here because he believes that God has called him here. Yesterday while harvesting basil together, Tom and I had a chance to talk. The thing that struck me in that conversation was how glad he was to be here, doing what he is doing. "Earlier this year, I'll admit I was discouraged and overwhelmed," he told me, "I won't lie to you; there were times when I just didn't think that I could do it anymore. But one night I checked email after a long hot day and read a note from one of our CSA members. It was short, but he was just letting me know that he had just eaten his Victory Acres salad and it had tasted SO good. That little bit of encouragement meant so much to me, and God used that to give me the strength to keep going."
“Coming to work here at Victory Acres was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” he said, “It’s brought me closer to my family, and it’s brought us all closer to God.”
Community supported agriculture only works when we as community do our individual part. It is easy to criticize; anyone can do it, but it takes something more to encourage and build up. I really appreciate you sticking with us this season through the good times and the bad. Your continued support has been a blessing, and we are glad to have you on our team. We are committed to making Victory Acres successful as a growing operation and as a ministry. We know we have a long way to go, but we are on the journey.
In the next few days, would you send a note of encouragement or post on Victory Acres Facebook page to let our farm team know just how much you appreciate their hard work this summer? In just a couple of weeks on Saturday, Sept. 20, we will be having our annual Victory Acres Harvest Party. It’s a great time of food, fellowship and fun, and it’s also a great time to show your love and appreciation for our farm team. Put it on your calendar, and plan to join us!
Farmer Tom and Cindy are committed to continuing at Victory Acres for another season, and we are glad to have them on our team. He has learned a lot this year, and he is excited about making next year even better yet. I hope you’ll plan to join us again. With your help, Victory Acres CSA can continue to grow and develop. Thanks again for doing your part!
In Christian Love,
Eric Himelick, Executive Director