Church’s Welfare Crops Feeding Hungry People

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 31 July 2014

The Magna Utah Crops Welfare Farm is located just a few hundred yards from the Magna Bishops’ Storehouse.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

Article Highlights

  • It’s harvest season in Utah, and LDS welfare farms are once again in full bloom and blessing the lives of countless people.
  • Almost every day during July, crates of tomatoes, squash, cabbage, beans, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables are harvested at the farms and shipped directly to the bishops’ storehouse.
  • Volunteers are the “gas” that fuels the labor-intensive operation of picking the produce that helps families in need.

MAGNA, UTAH

Volunteers at the Church’s Magna Utah Crops Welfare Farm follow a few guidelines during their assigned work shifts.

First, stay hydrated. The July sun can get hot—even during the early morning shifts. Second, the farm is home to some grumpy honeybees. Farm policy: let the bees be. And third, if you’re working along the west-end fence line, stay mindful of Rascal the dog. He likes to sneak up on unsuspecting volunteers and startle them with his high-pitched yelp.

Beyond that, volunteering at the Magna farm—or any of the Church’s several welfare crop farms in Utah—is fairly simple: arrive on time and ready to work—and then enjoy knowing you’re helping feed folks in need.

It’s harvest season in Utah, and LDS welfare farms are once again in full bloom and blessing the lives of countless people. Almost every day during July, crates of tomatoes, squash, cabbage, beans, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables harvested at the farms are shipped directly to the bishops’ storehouse. The produce is on the tables of families in need within hours of being picked.

Elder Lou Chase, a welfare missionary who manages the Magna farm, said volunteers are the “gas” that fuels the labor-intensive operation.

“We let the volunteers know that their work is blessing lives and feeding people,” he said.

This year, there are more tomatoes being harvested than the storehouse can handle. But nothing goes to waste. Any surplus is trucked to local food banks to, again, help feed families in need.

Most of the farms work with neighboring stakes in gathering volunteers. The workers don’t need to bring any special farming equipment besides their own hands and a strong back. Everything else is provided.

“The farms also provide great opportunities for people who are receiving Church assistance to serve and give back,” said Church welfare horticulturist Wade Sperry.

The most popular item grown at the farms?

“Without a doubt,” said Elder Chase, “everyone loves our cantaloupes.”

The entrance to the Magna Utah Crops Welfare Farm is located on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Produce at the Magna Utah Crops Welfare Farm. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Elder Dell Anderson serves as a welfare missionary at the farm, utilizing his years of farming experience to help manage the farm. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Elder Lou Chase, who manages the Magna Utah Crops Welfare Farm, reviews his inventory of planting supplies. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Millie pulls weeds from a row of almost-ready-for-picking tomatoes. Photo by Jason Swensen.