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June 11, 2018
Giving Back: Monocacy Farm Project
When you petition the powers that be with prayer, you don’t necessarily expect an explicit answer. But that’s what happened when Sister Bonnie Kleinschuster of the School Sisters of Saint Francis was looking for someone to manage the Monocacy Farm Project and its many community initiatives.
Bob Drake, who is now the manager of the project, had long experience with agricultural projects all over Africa. But he decided he needed more formal tutelage, so he took an internship at Rodale Institute in Kutztown to learn organic farming—and was soon recommended to the Project.
“Bob introduced himself,” Sister Bonnie says, “saying he and his wife were from New York, but they liked the area so much that they moved to Bethlehem.”
When Bonnie asked where, Bob told her Bridle Path Woods Apartments—literally across the street from the School Sisters of Saint Francis.
“God dropped you in our front yard!” Sister Bonnie told him.
Since 2013, Bob, along with a troupe of indispensable volunteers, has tended the ten-acre project, which seeks to use land and resources at Monocacy Manor in the Franciscan tradition to model stewardship and care of the earth, foster community involvement, provide educational opportunities, and serve the needs of the poor. In fact, half of the farm’s space is dedicated to growing produce that will be donated to
those in need.
The Project has grown to include community garden plots, a CSA, education programs, demonstration gardens—and of course, their GrowHealthy Community initiative, which currently provides fresh produce to 10 soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters in the Lehigh Valley.
For more information about the Project and how to support their good work, find the Monocacy Farm Project on Facebook or visit the website. And to get a taste of the fruits of their labor, don’t miss the 3rd annual Monocacy Farm Food Festival on Saturday, September 15th!