Coincidence or God’s timing?

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I was a little shaky this morning. Yes, some of it might have been due to the caffeine in the Extra Strength Excedrin I took for my blooming migraine, but I think most of it was due to an early morning experience that set all synapses firing. I was on the return leg of the morning carpool drop off, just a few miles from home, and as I approached an intersection a pickup truck coming from my left blew right through the stop sign. I exclaimed and honked, thought wow, lucky break and then made my way home. I know it wasn’t luck and I can’t stop thinking about the timing.

These things happen countless times each day, sometimes with no impact and sometimes with devastating consequences. Two and a half years ago, Tim Wheatley was driving his 9 year-old daughter Sarah to school on his way to work when a truck coming from the left blew a red light and broadsided their car. Tim was killed instantly and Sarah was critically injured. The circumstances were chillingly similar to my near miss this morning.

Pat Goodman, Senior Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Timonium, Maryland, often reminds the congregation of God’ sovereignty with these words: “You go no place by accident.” I firmly believe that the timing this morning was no accident, and if I had approached the intersection earlier and things had turned out differently, that God’s timing still would have been perfect. I have no idea why God allowed Tim’s life to end prematurely, for Sarah to suffer physical harm and for the entire Wheatley family to endure such a profound loss, yet I still trust His timing.

Tim’s wife, my dear friend Beth, told me that while walking down the hall at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center after being warned that Sarah might not survive, she prayed with each step, “Your grace is sufficient…Your grace is sufficient…Your grace is sufficient…” Thankfully, miraculously, Sarah did survive and you can learn a little about her recovery in this video clip produced by Hopkins Children’s Center.

As Christians, we are taught to give all our worries to God. Jesus said in Matthew 6:28-9: “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” This is easier for some of us than others, as some are born worriers while others are more able to surrender their fears. It can depend on the magnitude of the circumstances too, of course. When it comes to my children, I have to relinquish my concern for their safety and well-being to the Lord on a daily basis.

Tiara Swenson touches up trim with the support of Gemma Zigman.  Both are members of Hopkins Farmhands.

Here at First Fruits Farm, we rely on God’s timing in myriad ways, from big issues like the safety of our volunteers as they maintain and operate farm machinery to relatively minor things like the number of hands needed on a given day just as the crops are ripe for the harvest. It wasn’t luck that delayed the rain on Saturday so that the ServeFest volunteers could work to help prepare the farm for the growing season. Not only did God take care of the weather, He brought the ideal mix of skills, personalities and energy to the farm to make the day just what He intended it to be. And it was no accident that the ServeFest crew included Sarah Wheatley.

Diann Churchill


Here Come the Spuds!

The volunteer farmers at First Fruits Farm have been preparing the fields, ordering seeds, and servicing the farming equipment in anticipation of the upcoming season.  We can’t wait to see what God has in store!

In the following video clips, Rick Bernstein takes us on a brief tour of the potato equipment and describes the potato planting process.

In the first clip, Rick shows us the new potato cutter and describes how it will increase efficiency and yield this season.

Rick goes on to show us the potato planter that he and the other farmers will use to sow the potatoes in the fields.

Next, we see the new potato hiller, which will protect and nurture the potatoes and further increase yield.

Rick then shows us the potato harvester and describes how it digs up the potatoes and consolidates them into rows so volunteers can bag them and load them into bins.

Finally, Rick talks about processing the potatoes, transporting the bags and bins to shelters and food banks around Central Maryland.

Light of the World

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

This verse refers to Jesus entering the world as God incarnate, or according to some Bible translations, God made flesh. Think about what it feels like to be enveloped in complete darkness so that even if you open your eyes wide, wide, all you see is black. Pitch dark. This is hard to come by in our techno age of glowing flat screens, laptops, tablets and smart phones but imagine for a minute that it is indeed pitch dark. Then, imagine lighting a match and that tiny flame bursting into the big darkness. The darkness cannot overcome the light; the light prevails.

I have the privilege of living across the street from First Fruits Farm. My family moved to Freeland Road three and a half years ago and I’ll share more details about this “coincidence” in another post. One December night not long after we moved to our farm, my small group studied this scripture verse from the first chapter of John and we discussed how light prevailing over darkness is a metaphor for the way in which Christ overcomes evil. I pondered this truth as I drove the few miles home. The nights are pretty dark out here in the country and as I drove up the road there was the cross on the First Fruits barn, shining boldly into the cold night. The light shines in the darkness…

The light of Christ began to shine through what is now First Fruits Farm over 20 years ago when God spoke into the hearts of Rick and Carol Bernstein. Out of their desire to serve the Lord grew a vision for reaching people who are hungry not only for healthy food but for the Gospel.

Rick and Carol and their three young children lived in northern Baltimore County in a nice house on a couple of acres. They had a big garden and the Bernstein kids sold veggies from a little roadside stand. Well, one day they were completely overrun with produce – my guess it was either the zucchini multiplied overnight or every singletomato ripened within moments of each other as they do in my garden – so on his way to work in downtown Baltimore, Rick stopped by Our Daily Bread, Catholic Charities’ hot meal program. He carried in a few bags of produce and asked the kitchen staff if they could use some vegetables. As they rarely receive fresh produce, the staff was thrilled and Rick walked away with an idea germinating in his heart. That was 1991.

In 1998, the Bernsteins moved down the road a piece to a farm they named First Fruits Farm from Proverbs 3:9: Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. Hereford United Methodist Church provided initial support until FFF could become a freestanding nonprofit. Eventually, they acquired more acreage and equipment and today volunteers of all ages and backgrounds work in the fields together to grow food for many food banks, missions, shelters and soup kitchens. All this from a few bags of produce and a couple of open hearts.

Welcome to firstfruitsfarmblog! Our aim is to communicate what’s happening out here at the “Triple F,” from what’s growing in the fields to who is receiving the bounty and everything in between. As we move into the growing season, look for updates, photos, planting and harvesting news, farming ideas, as well as how you can become involved with First Fruits Farm.

Diann Churchill