Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G6
Growing Hope Farm in Cambridge is a place where Waterloo region residents can purchase organic produce, partake in goat yoga, or visit for a day. What people may not realize until they arrive is that Growing Hope Farm, Epp Peace Incubator alumni, is also a social enterprise, supporting local and international peacebuilding with every purchase. The foundation of Growing Hope Farm is “Food, Family, Faith.” By centering activities around these three principles, Growing Hope Farm has grown from a small urban farm just four years ago, to a significant supporter of Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC).
Founders Sarah and Philip Martin Mills always dreamed of being able to give back to their community. When the opportunity arose to purchase land for an urban farm, their peace and justice vision became a reality. Since its inception, Growing Hope Farm has focused on radical generosity and restorative justice. Producing quality, organic food with sustainable food practices provides the means to donate to MCC, while a commitment to providing an opportunity for skill building and meaningful work for incarcerated individuals reflects Growing Hope Farm’s foundational principle of family. As described on Growing Hope Farm’s website, “Our family is bigger than just our biological family, it's our community.”
Growing Hope Farm also expresses its commitment to peacebuilding through faith. For Sarah and Philip, their faith propels them to action, and that action is contributing to faith-based peacebuilding worldwide. For this reason, neither Sarah nor Philip take a salary so that 100% of the profits from the Farm are donated to MCC on an annual basis. MCC, a Core Collaborator at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, is committed to living out Christian faith in practical relief, development, and peacebuilding projects all across the world. Being able to track the impact of each dollar allows donors like Growing Hope Farm to feel confident that their financial contributions are making a difference.
In keeping with the trend of “Food, Family, Faith,” Growing Hope Farm’s donations have made direct impacts in food access and training for people across the world to start their own small farms. For example, donations through MCC provided emergency food supplies for a young mother and widow in South Sudan, and gave training for 16-year-old Osline Pauleus in Haiti to start her own urban farm. The ability to feed one’s family, or have the knowledge and tools to create a sustainable food source, is an incredibly valuable way to ensure individuals can live healthy lives. As Osline shared, “Before I was only able to eat these vegetables once in a while because I would have to buy them at the market, which is far away from my house. But thankfully I can now find all of these vegetables in my own garden.”
Growing Hope Farm has grown rapidly over the last four years. Sarah and Philip’s initial annual donation goal of $3,000 quickly grew into a $20,000 donation in 2019. According to Sarah, the growth of the farm is a testament to how much the community has rallied around them in purchases, visits, and volunteering. Even though Growing Hope Farm has slightly altered its offerings in the last few months due to COVID-19, they continue to provide serene space where the community can join in on food, family, and faith, all while knowing that their resources are making a difference both locally and globally.