NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. — To help clergy leaders stay
grounded and reconnect with their roots, Jeff Hawkins started Hope CSA on his
small family farm in northern Indiana.
Hawkins, an ordained Lutheran pastor, started the
not-for-profit 501(c)(3) in 2003, expanding on the original concept of a
community-supported agriculture program to assist clergies.
On the third Monday, Thursday and Friday of every month,
except December, church leaders come to the farm to participate in the special
continuing education course.
They enjoy an authentic opportunity to take a step back from
their everyday lives and help feed chickens, plant and weed gardens and,
eventually, taste the efforts of their hard work.
Jeffery Dick, a pastor from South Haven, Mich., has been a
part of Hope CSA for the last six years. He said that self-care is really
important for a pastor because many burn out, which is why he doesn’t mind
taking a day off and driving two and a half hours each way to and from the
Dick said the courses have been very beneficial. He has many
fruit growers in his congregation, and they appreciate it when he weaves images
from the farm into his sermons, he noted.
Hawkins employs chores on the farm — such as feeding the
flock of chickens — as lessons that the clergymen can use and take back to their
own flocks of people.
For example, he noted that instead of replacing all of the
chickens last year, like he’s done in previous years, he incorporated some
younger laying hens with the older birds.
It was as if he had two separate flocks living in one area,
and although it took several weeks, both groups of chickens now finally share the
same hen house, he said.
Hawkins noted that when congregations try to merge, it
sometimes may feel like a daunting task, as if they are two
completely different flocks that feel the need to rise against the idea of
Every year, Hope CSA hosts a farm-to-fork dinner, known as
“Between Heaven and Earth,” on the last Saturday in September.
The evening serves as a fundraiser for the organization and
takes place in the garden, featuring food from the farm, as well as local
More information about the on-farm ministry can be found at