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  • Writer's pictureRick Burnette

A Harvest of Hope

Since we moved onto our property over four years ago, we have planted at least 30 types of tropical fruit-producing plants. Many, such as the mango, banana, avocado and starfruit trees, have been yielding over the past year or two. Other trees, including a jackfruit, sugar apple, pomelo and two coconuts are still immature. And I’m not sure if our Marion plum or grumichama will ever bear.

Since last week, I’ve been monitoring the starfruit, fig, guava and papaya trees for ripe fruit. Despite branches and stems loaded with maturing produce, there’s only been enough for breakfast some mornings and maybe a snack.

Although there wasn’t much fruit to eat today, we’re quite certain that there will something to harvest in a few days and a whole lot more in the coming weeks. In fact, over time, the harvest will well exceed what our family can consume. So, it will be shared. Some of that fruit will go to our next-door neighbors. Even more will go to Immokalee.

Folks reading this blog can spot a metaphor a mile away, so it’s probably obvious that I’m not just describing a major fruit craving. I’m alluding to anticipation, patience and hope.

With encouragement and assistance from friends and advisers over the past months, much effort has gone into laying the groundwork for the establishment of Cultivate Abundance. It’s somewhat like when we started planting our fruit trees.

And after announcing the launch of Cultivate Abundance less than a month ago, we’ve received both encouragement and financial support. Not as much as we expect over the coming months and years, but enough to get the ball rolling.

For now, our day job that keeps a regular paycheck coming through the end of December, limits opportunities to travel to Immokalee to be of assistance to local partners. But we’re redeeming our time by squeezing in on-line Spanish lessons.

Actually, this phase we’re in – with accomplishments and support only beginning to trickle in - is a bit like our current fruit harvest.

But we trust that during the months to come, especially when we can devote our full attention to Cultivate Abundance, there will be a growing flood of opportunities, engagement and support.

For instance, during our first year of engagement, we look forward to building more relationships in Immokalee and figuring out the best approaches to local small-scale food production.

In the coming months, we anticipate the establishment of at least a few community gardens and dozens of household container gardens. We expect to propagate and distribute hundreds of garden plants to support that effort. Seeds will also be saved for a future community seed bank.

We are excited that in 2018 an alliance of gardeners will be organized to enable the donation of surplus homegrown produce to nourish hundreds of farmworker households. We hope to capture and share at least one ton of fruit during this first year.

We’re very enthused about future trips to Haiti, Central America and beyond to exchange ideas, knowledge and other resources for the efforts of small-scale farmers and gardeners.

In 2018, we can’t wait to begin advising and encouraging partnering US churches related to their own gardening efforts.

And we look forward to growing financial support from friends, congregations, foundations and others that will make all of this effort possible.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to nurture the trees. We’ll be patient when there’s only a few ripe fruit to pick, for the real harvest of hope lies just ahead.

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