From Ex-Cons to Farming Disciples- Hidden Creek Urban Farm

By Emily Ready

At Hidden Creek Opportunity Center, our goal is to live life on purpose.  One of the main pillars to accomplish this goal is through life on life discipleship.  We have realized that while Hidden Creek is investing in the discipleship of our residents, we are missing the most productive hours of the day while the residents are working, key opportunities to speak truth into their lives.  As a ministry we have started to move towards a job program within Hidden Creek. Benefits of the jobs program are discipleship with the residents, jobs for the residents, and funding for Hidden Creek itself.

By keeping the residents on campus, we will have the opportunity to work right alongside of them. Quality time is an essential part of discipleship and recovery. To live at Hidden Creek the residents are required to work a minimum of 32 hours a week. This becomes at least 32 additional hours a week that we are able to transfer truth into their lives.  Not only do jobs provide residents with the means to be financially stable, it also provides them with self-worth and the knowledge that they can accomplish something and be productive.  By working at Hidden Creek we will be able to provide a tailored set of skills to the residents that they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.  We will also be able to further fund our growing ministry needs.

So how are we going to do all of this? What jobs will we be creating? When does this all start? Our current approach is called Urban Farming, basically gardening in the city.  Eventually we desire to be a source for locally grown, organic produce in Little Rock.  We have already started with an indoor growing system called hydroponics. Hydroponics is a system that young plants are planted into without any soil.  Our growing medium is clay pebbles and water that is constantly cycling to give the plants the adequate source of nutrients and hydration that they need to flourish; there are also grow lights on the plants to mimic sunlight. We have started with systems of strawberries and lettuce.  We also have begun to sprout seeds that will be able to be transplanted into the other systems.  This is all currently taking place in one of the vacant apartments, but eventually needs to be moved outside with a greenhouse built to protect from weather conditions.  Our residents have already been involved with building our hydroponics systems and are excited to continue in the process.  The process of urban farming truly provides the residents the opportunity to see what it looks like to make something out of nothing, shows them the value of hard work and discipline, and provides skills and perseverance that they will be able to take into any job that they go to.

How can you help? The biggest need at the moment is financial.  If you would like to give towards this project contact David Ready at dready@hiddencreekdc.org . We also will need the help of volunteers and d-groups with building the green house when it comes time.  We are so excited for what God has placed on our hearts with the jobs program at Hidden Creek. We look forward to what is to come and how God will use us as a community to live life on purpose.


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