KINGSBURG, CA (June 8, 2012) – The Kingsburg Covenant Church has teamed with missionary Roy Danforth in the Central African Republic (CAR) to help turn “Peaches into Papayas.” It’s not a Jesus-like miracle, but is a sign of what can happen when creativity and opportunity meet.
This area of California is responsible for supplying much of the state’s agricultural income, including peaches sold throughout the United States. For example, peaches sold in Chicago grocery stores frequently are packed in Reedley, a community just miles from Kingsburg. (Check the packing sticker on each peach the next time you are in the store.)
Vernon Peterson, a church member who is a peach grower and packer, and Danforth believe the “Peaches to Papayas” project will benefit agriculture in the Central African Republic. The project uses proceeds from growing peach trees in Fresno County to purchase fruit trees in the African nation.
Peterson and Danforth attended a gathering of San Joaquin Valley growers – representatives from the Foods Resource Bank (FRB) also attended. Covenant World Relief is one of 15 members in the FRM organization. Greg Yee, Pacific Southwest Conference associate superintendent, arranged for the meeting hoping that a farming project such as one in Canada led by Covenanters could be replicated in some fashion.
Dialogue at the meeting focused on how to connect average people to the need overseas in a meaningful way, knowing that farmers in other parts of the Covenant have contributed to the church’s cooperative efforts with FRB.
“It didn’t take long for Peterson to begin talking about the idea that has become Peaches to Papayas,” says Tim Boynton, Kingsburg Covenant’s pastor.
Here’s how it works: The cost to nurture one peach tree this season is about $50. The fruit from the tree should gross about $100.
Peaches to Papayas has set aside an orchard of 600 trees and is looking for families or churches to sponsor trees. The project’s net gain will then be invested in purchasing fruit trees in CAR that will be transported to a partner village at a cost of only $5 per tree. Once trees are grown, cuttings from the trees can be used to plant others.
The Center for Experimentation in Agriculture (CEFA) that Danforth works through was recently granted 1,000 acres of land from the CAR government to include more farmers. Covenant World Relief serves in a lead role for the CEFA project.
A weekly, one-minute informative video is produced documenting the peach-growing process and featuring life and agriculture in CAR. Those sponsoring a tree will be added to the subscription to receive the weekly videos.
The video will educate viewers on what it takes to grow a crop of peaches in California and a crop of tropical fruit in CAR.
Boynton emphasizes that Covenanters around the country can adopt a tree. “We want Covenanters to get on board, and we also want this to spark ideas in others as to how we can creatively feed the world.”
Click here to read about a similar project, Kernels of Hope, that members of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada started several years ago.