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Farm camp teaches, provides in Edgecombe County

Posted July 13, 2015
Updated July 16, 2015

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— In one of the poorest parts of North Carolina, the Rev. Richard Joyner is planting seeds of change in his community. He's starting with young people, teaching them the ins and outs of sustainable living on the 25-acre Conetoe Family Life Center Farm.

Tobias Hopkins, a rising high school senior, is one of dozens spending his summer working the farm. Hopkins helps to manage a bus full of honeybee hives.

"I think once you get stung, that's your stamp saying you're a certified beekeeper," Hopkins said.

Others sow and till and even sell the produce they raise to fund the camp, school supplies and scholarships.

Joyner, a hospital chaplain, was inspired to seek better, healthier food choices for his community after watching too many people struggle.

"We didn't have access to fresh, locally grown, affordable food," he said.

Joyner decided to grow his own and teach others the satisfaction of fresh food, cultivated by a community, for a community.

The Conetoe farm garden grows thousands of pounds of food every year, and the Family Life Center gives most of it away to the people who need it most.

Joyner says they're learning valuable lessons that will make them healthier, happier adults.

"We're building a sustainable process for this region," Joyner said. "We want it not only to change, but to sustain the change. It's one thing to change something, but can you sustain it?"

Joyner believes the Family Life Center Farm is a seed of something that will keep growing.

Conetoe Family Life Center is among the innovators seeking solutions to the problem of hunger in North Carolina that will benefit from the second annual HungerFreeNC mediathon Thursday, July 16. Join WRAL-TV and Radio One Raleigh all day for information and inspiration.

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