May 4, 2005 at 6:56 PM CDT - Updated July 26 at 6:57 PM
Hope Seeds Program By: Amy Jacquin
Bertrand, MO - There's a program sprouting in Southeast Missouri that grows vegetables for their seed. That seed is then sent to third-world countries.
Hope Seeds started with a gardening family in Bertrand, the Muellers, and it's producing results across state boundaries.
The Muellers also have land in Florida, and have been operating Hope Seeds there for five years.
"This garden allows us to grow specific crops and save the seed," explains Mike Mueller, a founder of Hope Seeds. "Also missionaries from other countries try to come here during harvesting time, to learn how to do grow for seed, process, and store them."
Hope Seeds is a Christian charity where "the Master's gardeners" freely labor out of love for God and the poor.
"The Lord told us to feed the poor," says Mike's wife, Jean. "To take care of his lambs. This is a way to spread seed and the gospel at the same time."
The seed is sent to third-world countries to help orphanages, families, even entire villages, feed themselves.
"Some of the families grow their gardens so well, they have produce left-over to sell at the market," Jean adds. "So it not only provides food, but also money for their children."
"Some of these countries are excellent food producers, but politics put stop to it," says Mike.
Countries where disease or politics or war wiped out much of an entire generation.
"They learn how to do things their forefathers used to know, but they've never been taught," he says.
The Muellers use their Bertrand garden to teach volunteers about inter-cropping and seed harvesting. They recruit agriculture students from third-world countries, and train them, too.
One Cape Girardeau farmer devotes a two-acre patch to growing seeds for the program. It's a relatively small investment, hopefully a big return. The Muellers pray more people get involved this way.
"We've been blessed with many wonderful volunteers," says Jean. "We have love for the Lord. We have the ability to help others. What a gift we like to share!"
Volunteers are needed to tend the Bertrand garden, help package seeds for mailing, or grow on your own ground.