f4h.blessing.scene.Written by Priscilla Wentworth and Greg Bowen

Serenity Farm in Charles County should no longer exist. Mid-sized farms in the U.S. have been disappearing at a dramatic rate, as ag operations have continued to scale up to compete in the global markets. In fact, this farm has struggled as farm profits continued to decline in the last few decades.

Ironically, the farm is on the rebound now due to a nonprofit called Farming 4 Hunger,

F4H Founder with former and current participants in DOC's work release program

F4H Founder, Bernie Fowler (behind mic), with former and current participants in DOC’s pre-release program

which had its second Annual Blessing of the Farm event on Saturday. In the last three years, the farm has raised over 3 million pounds of produce that were donated to those in need. The farmers are paid to raise the food and MD Department of Correction (DOC) pre-release participants and hundreds of volunteers harvest it.

Most of the produce raised stays right in Southern Maryland – feeding people in need. But the slogan “All are fed at the farm” goes beyond food. Farming 4 Hunger is now connecting with 27 other farmers. Synergy and profitability for farmers are building the local economy. And lives are changing too.

Farming 4 Hunger’s Founder Bernie Fowler is proud of his relationship with the men from DOC who are at the end of serving their time and want to give back for what they’ve taken from society. Graduates of the program often find jobs in the community and many return to volunteer and share their stories.

f4h.blessing.speechWhen 140 people of different religions and  cultures come out to Farming 4 Hunger to bless the fields for the upcoming growing season to feed people in need fresh vegetables- that is community. Growing food is important but growing food together (and ultimately growing together) is what makes it all worthwhile.

Family farms of all sizes are benefiting from the local food movement. People are learning that food from farms in their region is not only is fresher and tastier, it creates jobs, builds community and it can even change lives. Serenity Farm, with the help of Farming 4 Hunger, is a community farm. As the nonprofit’s website says, “We welcome you to come back time and time again to serve, educate, share, fellowship, rejoice, laugh and learn.”