potato project
Photo provided by James Yoder

(Left to right) Lexi Bentley, Anja Martin, Eli Martin and Sayde Rosario learn about harvesting potatoes from James Yoder. Their congregation, Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship, created a potato project to raise funds for MCC’s AIDS work in Kenya.

Several years ago, the congregation of Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen, Ind., purchased a tract of land. A portion of the land has been used for a community garden, but this summer, the congregation began a new initiative.

“During the summer months, our intergenerational Sunday School classes focused on experiencing God through a variety of activities,” said James Yoder, who organized the project. “One of the service topics chosen was a gardening project that would raise money for a service organization, and it was decided that a potato project would be a feasible endeavor.”

The potato project was truly an intergenerational affair, as participants in the project ranged from five to 75 years of age.

Once the land was tilled in May, several individuals planted 10 rows of potatoes, 75 feet in length. A group of 20 people then later hoed the potatoes and hilled dirt over the plants. “Fortunately the rains came at the right time and the potatoes flourished,” said Yoder.

When it was time to harvest the potatoes in August, Sunday School classes dug the potatoes on three different Sundays. The harvested potatoes were then sold for a suggested donation.

This money was donated to MCC’s Generations program in Kenya, whose goals are decreasing the rate of spread of HIV and the stigma associated with the disease and to assist those affected by AIDS to live a more comfortable and fulfilling life, with hope for the future.

According to Yoder, this project was chosen because the Berkey Avenue congregation includes a Maasai family from Kenya. “We felt like it would be a good way to show solidarity with them, to send the money to a region and a project near their family,” he said.