Wednesday, 1 July 2015


A lot of people have seen my love for Chattanooga over the years. I love the time I've got to spend there. While the city is very cool, and I have a love I can't quite understand it's also the people I've met there and know there who make it what it is. The Covenant College crowd never ceases to amaze me, genuine people with a love for God and his people.

My time spent this past week was with my cousins, mostly. Who live 25 minutes from Chattanooga.
We spent the time talking about the farm/garden they have and what people are looking at for their future. My Uncle Tim doesn't see being able to make a living simply from the farm and can't put in the hours for it therefore, but is happy for someone to make a CSA out of it and make a little money from it. (If people paid the real price of food it would go up 50-70%! Seriously!)

My cousin Jether and I have had this dream for years, a dream of working land together and growing food for ourselves and others. It might just be coming true. While I don't expect it to be the main source of my income, for 2016 I presume to be putting most of my hours towards it. I'm still young, and don't mind working hard right now, either.

While I'm not super tech savvy, and can't do a whole lot with putting together a website I've got social networking skills, and know how to work social media and other things such as taking photos and getting them uploaded. I helped redo some of the facebook page while I was there, as well as write up a CSA brochure that we'll hand out to customers who are interested. I did online research and rewrote a CSA contract for us to use with all our CSA customers.

A quick review of what a CSA is for those who don't know. It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically at the beginning of the year the customer pays x amount of money for x amount of vegetables each week. The farmer says he'll do whatever he can to make that amount each week of produce, but things happen. That's where Community Supported comes into play. The customer says I'm willing to support my local farmer who is underpayed (very few farmers are payed what they're worth) and give him the money up front and hope to get vegetables for this year. It's a way of reconnecting or maybe connecting people to the land for the first time. It's building relationships with the people growing your food and is a great for educating people on farming. It also opens the door for other things tied in with a CSA, such as Farm to Table dinners and other events on the farm.

The plan is to do 10 CSA shares next year, and the hope to grow about 15 shares worth of food. Our first goal in having the farm was to provide for ourselves first, and then to others. We don't want to sacrifice our own food to feed others, we don't see that as beneficial or productive to the system. We will do two CSA's. One from May-July and another from August-October. Throughout the growing season we expect to do cooking classes for people to learn ways to cook with the food they're getting. We'll throw Farm to Table dinners which is another easy way to get a little more income, as well as just being plain fun. The opportunities are endless with Natural Ways Homestead. The only downside is the fact that of the 89 acres they live on, only a couple are cleared for pasture or garden. But we have so many resources at our finger tips. It's exciting just thinking about it.

I'll be moving out in March to start working. At that point it will mostly be greenhouse starting seeds and mulching areas of the garden and working on systems to get the CSA in place.

I'm excited to see where this adventure will take me. Taking it one year at a time.

English Vintner

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Be Still and Know that I AM God

Be still and know that I Am God.

I think this past year has been one of coming to a resting place with God and where I am in life. But before I can talk about this past year I think I need to talk about the previous year.

A year ago I was finishing up my second round of vaccinations in order to go to Karamoja, Uganda to work with the Orthodox Presbyterian Mission. But let me back up to a year before that, January 2013.

 I found out about a ministry in Charlotte, One7 that brings kids into their soccer club program and provides housing for immigrants and needs for the needy. They needed guys to come and hangout with the kids as well as serve as a small group leader on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I got hooked on it, I loved serving in a way I hadn’t yet been able to do my whole life. I was starting to understand what I thought the way I should be living my life, one of servitude to those who are in greatest need spiritually and physically. I went once or twice every week consistently from April to June and quickly got to know the kids and loved being there. It just felt so, right. 

In mid June I got a call from Isaiah, my brother who was at the Boardwalk Chapel Ministry in New Jersey. They were short on staff for the Summer and asked if I wanted to come. So without any money for the trip and without waiting to get a recommendation from my Pastor at the time, I said yes. I’d just read where Jesus is walking by the sea and sees Peter and calls to him “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” . God was teaching me to be spontaneous, asking me if I would trust Him even when I can’t see around the bend.

I spent the Summer learning a lot about evangelizing, playing music, and having conversations about Jesus with random people on the boardwalk and seeing some of them come to Jesus! 

Before I came home I’d already signed up to be part of a team doing a Water Project in Honduras. I wanted to go for several reasons. My cousins, who I am very close to had lived in Honduras for several years. Besides that, two of them were going on the trip. 
In November we left and spent a full week in a remote village working along side the people digging trenches for the piping and getting to experience what life is like without electricity, running water, or much of anything else. It was a humbling experience and got me to ask a lot of questions about my theology and what I believed and thought about living a ‘Christian Life’.

Before I left for the trip I sent in my application to the Uganda Mission board to see if they would accept me and let me ‘visit’ for 3 months doing diaconal work, namely working on construction projects. 

Before Christmas I got the ‘yes’ I needed and planned for going. Crazy things happened around that time and I almost didn’t end up going. But God came through and I put my last penny to the trip and left on a plane to spend 90 days in Uganda. 
Right before the trip that I’d read Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution which turned my world on end and got me to ask a hundred questions about everything I thought I’d believed. 

My time in Uganda was very sweet. Many moments of missing home and other comforts, like a laptop or even music on an ipod, but it was overall very good. I got a lot of life experience living there and learned a lot of skills with concrete and metal.

I got home from Uganda unsure of what was next. I’d spent the last year and a half going going going. I hadn’t taken a deep breath yet. I took a week off before going back to restaurant work, which was probably the smartest thing I ever did. (Jet lag didn’t hit me until I had been in the States for over a week!)

In the past three years I’d been to Peru twice, Honduras, Uganda and had spent a Summer volunteering at the Boardwalk in New Jersey. What was next, Eastern Europe? 

But as I settled into life I realized God was telling me to slow down. I’d spent the last year and a half going all around the world learning and seeing so much, and now He wanted me to sit down and take it easy. I felt guilty not jumping back into One7 and not having as much energy for other serving opportunities, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I finally realized I had not rested for a long time and I needed to regain my energy. Take a breath before I pass out and really can’t do anything.

Here I am. Remembering a year ago getting ready to go to Uganda, the adventurous part of me wants to do it again. 

I want to talk about some small things in my life that in some ways are big. I feel like the year 21 for me is going to be in some ways a starting point for something big. I expanded my coffee business, selling at a local Farmers Market. I built a pyramid, I got a wood stove, have a chicken coop and 12 chickens. I’ve spent the last 8 years yearning to be able to do or have these things and now they have COME TRUE! I see this year as having a lot of potential.

In November I started going to a church with my brother and sister-in-law Josiah and Jo. The church was in so many ways an answer to prayer. I’d been looking for more in my walk with God and wanted a way to learn it. The Pastor is very spirit led and down to earth. I am always amazed how much power his words have. His relationship with God is amazing to see and inspiring. Last week I was asked to join the worship team and I readily agreed. I will be on acoustic guitar or electric, as well as some vocals and drums. 

What’s next for me? I don’t know. I think God has me here for maybe a year and then He’s moving me to Chattanooga; another dream that would come true. My best friend and cousin Jether is starting a farm with his family. I plan on joining them next year if things go as planned. If I do I would move down there and try to continue my coffee business there as I see potential. It will be a bittersweet time I think, moving away from my siblings and family here, but also being able to live with/near my family there in Chattanooga.

I am seeking to follow God and do what He wants me to do. I am working at putting ministry into a daily activity, like breathing. I want servitude to be so much apart of who I am that you can’t separate it from me. I want Jesus’ love to be seen through me. I’ve got a long way to go, but this is my prayer.