Under-resourced and over-burdened as a laborer in Odisha, India, Ravi* was struggling to provide for his family when he connected with the Church of the Nazarene’s Kitchen Garden Project. The program, a church WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) project, supplies startup seeds and basic agricultural education. It equipped Ravi with the materials and training needed to cultivate a robust home garden. He started small, growing foods like tomatoes, chili peppers, cauliflower, and potatoes for his family. His children began eating nourishing meals. As he developed his agricultural skills, Ravi realized that he could expand his crops and sell the produce. He cultivated more land and gardened on a larger scale. He sold vegetables locally, setting up a booth in a nearby market. Eventually, Ravi left his day-laboring job for full-time farming, which enabled his children to begin attending a higher quality school. Through the Kitchen Garden Project, Ravi drastically improved his family’s quality of life, and he’s not alone.

Since 2019, more than 2,000 men, women, and children in rural India have benefitted from the Kitchen Garden Project, and church leaders believe it is only the beginning.

“We are encouraging villages to start something, to grow your own things,” says India Field’s Compassionate Ministries Coordinator Trisha Baran Das. It takes time, Trisha says, but eventually many beneficiaries are taking their vegetables to the local market and selling them, creating a self-sustaining career out of the simple seed packets.

Like Ravi, mother and newly widowed Roopa* was also under great stress to provide for her two children on a limited income. When her husband passed away and Roopa was unable to work, she began receiving rice from the Indian government.

“But rice is not enough,” says Kitchen Garden Project Manager Pratik Zombade. “They were starving for nutritional food.” The Kitchen Garden Project supplied Roopa with multiple seed packets and basic gardening education. One day, Pratik visited Roopa’s village again to check in on program participants. Roopa approached him wearing a huge smile and hauling an overflowing bucket of tomatoes. “She was very happy,” Pratik remembers. “The Kitchen Garden Project will help them to eventually be strong and healthy.”

On this Earth Day, consider supporting family farmers like Ravi and Roopa by donating toward Nazarene Compassionate Ministries’ Economic Development Fund.  Your donation, like the thousands of seeds planted so far, will empower and equip families to improve their quality of life.

*Names have been changed

written by Sarah Norris, Eurasia Region Volunteer