Home & Garden

‘If you need it, take it’: Bellefonte garden serves neighbors in need

Adam Clampet, the founding farmer of Crops for Christ, and his son Shawn, 13, harvest some vegetables in their Bellefonte garden on Monday, Sept. 3, 2018.
Adam Clampet, the founding farmer of Crops for Christ, and his son Shawn, 13, harvest some vegetables in their Bellefonte garden on Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. adrey@centredaily.com

Centre County offers abundant resources for the community’s less fortunate, and now a new nonprofit is providing yet another important resource to those in need — fresh, naturally-grown produce, for free.

Crops for Christ founder Adam Clampet is a lifelong gardener, passionate about growing produce from childhood. While serving at Huntingdon Christian & Missionary Alliance years ago, he had the idea to start a community garden as a way to not only benefit the area, but to also engage young people, particularly Juniata College students, in volunteering and ministry. While that idea didn’t come to fruition at the time, it was the seed of something that stuck with Clampet until he moved to Bellefonte with his family in 2014.

That year, Clampet grew a small garden and had an overabundance of cucumbers. He put some out on a roadside stand, with a sign simply stating, “If you have it, give it. If you need it, take it, and if you know others, take some more.”

It was the start of what would become Crops for Christ — a nonprofit with a mission to simply grow and harvest food to give away to those in need.

“Through prayer and time, (my wife and I) realized, (through) my passion for gardening and the need in the community, there was definitely something that could be done,” Clampet said. “We started looking at growing food to just give away to our neighbors, whether they were the neighbor next door, across town or in a different town.”

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Shawn Clampet, 13, hands some grapes to his dad, Adam, as he reaches for a ripe tomato in their Bellefonte garden on Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. Adam Clampet is the founding farmer for Crops for Christ. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Crops for Christ expanded to involve several families, including other home gardeners and farmers with excess they’re willing to donate to those in need. In 2016, Crops for Christ incorporated and formed a 501(c)(3), with two 12x4 garden boxes and some peppers and tomatoes. Now, the organization includes three locations throughout the county, with plans for a fourth.

All the food produced is grown naturally and the organization asks that all produce donated is grown without chemicals. As Clampet puts it, it’s the food his own family wants to eat. Through stressing a sustainable agricultural environment, the organization is also teaching other families who don’t garden currently, how to get started, as well as teaching beneficiary families how to plant their own gardens in the future.

While it’s difficult to say just how many families have been impacted by Crops for Christ so far, Clampet said the biggest impact he’s seen firsthand has been on his own life.

“My heart for people has changed,” he said. “I’ve always believed that you work hard and (then) you earn more. (Since founding Crops for Christ,) I realize that sometimes there are people who just can’t, or they’re trying and they’re struggling and need help ...”

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Concord grapes that will be used to make juice or popsicles grow in Adam Clampet’s Bellefonte garden on Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

It all ties in to the greater mission of Crops for Christ — sharing the values of Christianity without the need to say them aloud.

“The intent of our work is to glorify the name of Jesus without having to speak it,” Clampet said. “I think the name of the organization itself tells people why we do what we do and, the way we do it by providing for people (in) need, coming alongside them and just loving on them, (that) itself shows them that they are loved by Jesus.”

Over the next year, Clampet said he hopes to have enough families involved in volunteering that it will lead to grants to “take us to the next level.”

“Some of these grants can take us to levels way beyond what we can imagine now,” he said.

Goals for the upcoming growing seasons include finding resources to continue production during the winter months, via either a greenhouse or hot house. If a community member with access to either is willing to grow food in the winter or late fall, Clampet encourages that they get in touch. Additionally, as the nonprofit grows, the team is looking for volunteers who can help out with more administrative tasks, such as grant researching and writing and social media.

For more information, visit www.cropsforchrist.org, email info@cropsforchrist.org or call 470-4372.