New Project Connects Ministry, Science for Greater Good
WILMORE, Ky. — Beginning this fall, Asbury University students have an opportunity to learn how to feed hungry souls by filling hungry bellies with a project called the Mission Farm.
The idea behind the Mission Farm is to help students learn the information and skills needed to grow wholesome fruits, vegetables and livestock, and to be able to adapt that knowledge to any mission situation to which they are called. A one-credit-hour seminar meets weekly to investigate the process of establishing a sustainable farm, including planting and harvesting, soil ecology and food preservation techniques.
“Basic knowledge on growing food opens many doors to conversation,” said Dr. Marty Bilderback, associate professor of equine management. “Gardeners and farmers love to share information and produce. This can present opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed and also provides a foundation of trust and respect.”
A groundbreaking for the Mission Farm will take place at 1 p.m. at the University’s Draft Horse Day event on Sept. 24, 2011, at the University’s Equine Center. Work on the Mission Farm will continue throughout the Fall semester, and in the Spring, another seminar focusing on animal husbandry will be offered. A trip to Belize over spring break (March 10-17) will focus on tutoring local children in English and math, as well as agricultural work, to give Asbury students a glimpse of the mission field from an agricultural point of view.
The project is a collaborative effort involving faculty and instructors from several of Asbury’s academic departments, as well as the University of Kentucky and Berea College. The students who have signed up for the seminar reflect this interdisciplinary spirit, as well — 14 majors and life experiences from five foreign countries are represented. Asbury University grad Dr. Ray Smith ’83, an associate professor in the department of plant and soil sciences at the University of Kentucky, has been helping get the project off to a good start.
“We’re hoping students develop a sensitivity to how closely people in the developing world are tied to production agriculture,” Smith said. “Students going to the mission field need to have the practical skills and knowledge base in agriculture to help them improve their quality of life.”