A Great Plan B for Farm Camp

Have you ever heard the phrase "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"?  Well, recently we turned our lemons into honey and came up with a great plan B for Farm Camp that was rained out by Tropical Storm Cindy.  Even with all of our modern technology, we cannot control the weather, and it has a way of changing our plans from time to time.  It happens to all of us, and farmers understand keeping an eye on the sky more than most. In fact, that's Farming 101.  Farmers make a plan for planting, fertilizing or harvesting.  The execution of those plans are completely dependent on if, when and how much it rains.  

The rain just kept coming at the farm during Tropical Storm Cindy.

The rain just kept coming at the farm during Tropical Storm Cindy.

In June we planned to take a group of students from south Dallas to Farm Camp, but the drenching storm had other plans and covered southeast Arkansas with flooding rain during the exact days of our trip. The morning our group was set to leave Dallas, a decision was made to postpone camp. Food had been purchased, speakers had been engaged, activities had been planned, and at the last minute all the plans changed.  Not wanting to completely scrap the opportunity of our weekend, we quickly started to brainstorm about what we could do in Dallas on such short notice.

Marvin Walker and Reshod Fortenberry were set to be our health and wellness speakers for camp, and, as usual, were up for anything. They were willing to regroup with a remnant of our campers on Saturday morning and engage them. Also, Nature Nate’s came through at the last minute and offered to give our group a tour of their bottling facility, which is located on a lovely farm outside Dallas. 

Reshod Fortenberry and Marvin Walker speaking on health and nutrition at Nature Nate's farm.

Reshod Fortenberry and Marvin Walker speaking on health and nutrition at Nature Nate's farm.

Rachel Logan and Kris Habashy with Tim Spaight

Rachel Logan and Kris Habashy with Tim Spaight

Having a few key components pulled together, lots of fresh food on hand and a group of adventurous students, we decided to go for it. That Saturday morning brought heavy rain to Dallas, but our team didn’t let that stand in the way and moved forward with umbrellas and wet sneakers! 

First, we met for breakfast, games, and a devotion led by Marvin. He spoke truth to our students about their eternal value and the significance of each of their lives. 

Have you ever tried to get a cookie into your mouth using just your facial muscles? It is NOT easy!

Have you ever tried to get a cookie into your mouth using just your facial muscles? It is NOT easy!

Marvin helping our crew wake up and teaching them truth about the value of their lives.

Marvin helping our crew wake up and teaching them truth about the value of their lives.

Next we loaded up our crew and headed to Nature Nate’s farm. Tim Spaight greeted us and handed out hair nets, shoe covers and release forms. His quick wit (and the fact that we were all feeling pretty goofy in our hair nets) quickly gave our group a light hearted vibe. Once we were suited and ready, he took us through their process of bottling golden, delicious honey from beekeepers around the country and preparing it to be distributed and sold. nationwide. Our students were intrigued by the automated bottle filling process and the fascinating life of bees. Tim shared lots of facts about honey, bees, and the hospitable culture of Nature Nate’s. He allowed us to ask questions and certainly made us feel at home.

Tim Spaight of Nature Nate's.

Tim Spaight of Nature Nate's.

After the tour, our group settled on a large porch to share a meal together. Any time we have a farm gathering, you know there will be plenty of wonderful, healthy food! From fresh tomatoes, corn, and blackberries to smoked turkey and fresh bread, we enjoyed a filling lunch.


Once we were full, Marvin and Reshod addressed our group about nutrition, stating that we are stewards of the bodies we’ve been given and have an opportunity to respond to God’s love by taking care of ourselves. Marvin and Reshod are both athletes and can speak first hand about the impact of food choices on a body’s performance.

Reshod's family lives in the Dallas area and they came to support him that morning. We were thrilled to host them as they encouraged Reshod. They added a great family dynamic to our group and even shared a few stories about their journey to health.

As our time wound down, the rain cleared and Nature Nate’s allowed our students to run on their spacious lawn and play a little football. Many of our students greatly appreciate the opportunity to play in a wide-open space and gather in safe environments. It’s always fun to see how a group of kids can come together with seemingly little in common and wind up laughing and playing before long.

While Tropical Storm Cindy kept us away from Farm Camp in Arkansas, our gracious partners and students rallied like champions and enjoyed a lovely Saturday morning together…and we all went home with honey!

We are so thankful to Nature Nate’s for their hospitality and to Marvin and Reshod for their flexibility!



How Do I Get my Kids to Eat More Vegetables? Do I Need to Pay for Organic Food Only? And Other FAQs from the "Christian Parenting" Magazine.

I am often asked questions like how do I get my kids to eat more vegetables? and do I need to pay for Organic Food Only? I recently had the privilege of writing for an online magazine called Christian Parenting to answer these questions and other FAQs. The editor, Kelly Matthews, conducted an interview and split the content into a few different topics.  You can read the first one highlighting Farm Camp here:

Kelly asked me how I get my kids to eat more vegetables.  She made my tips look so good!

The next question Kelly asked me was one that I discuss with fellow consumers very often:  "Do I have to buy organics to be healthy?"  Read the article below to learn why I am so confident in my answer which is "No way!"  

Flexibility at Farm Camp

We recently had the privilege of hosting our fourth Farm Camp, and the thing I can confidently say about camp is that every one is different!  Flexibility is essential at Farm Camp. It's always exciting to plan and prepare, coordinate and collaborate, but you never know what's actually going to develop until you live it out.  Each Farm Camp has its own unique set of opportunities, logistics, and dynamics.  

Dallas Farm Camp: We're Off to Arkansas

On April 27th, we collected students from different schools throughout West Dallas and North Dallas to load into a 15 passenger van and travel to our farmhouse in southeast Arkansas.  After a 6 hour journey, we arrived just after dark, enjoyed a healthy snack, and settled into our rooms. Introductions were made.  Ground rules were set.  And we were ready to enjoy the weekend together.  

Health and Wellness

Dennis Kelly joined us as our guest speaker and health expert.  With his vast experience of training athletes in physical development and nutritional wisdom, Dennis was a terrific fit for imparting simple, accessible health truths to our campers.  Throughout the weekend, he shared a series of health-focused lessons teaching basic facts about how food affects our bodies, the benefits of regular physical movement and the value of living intentionally.  The students engaged with his lessons and thoroughly enjoyed his companionship as they explored the outdoor activities.  What an honor to have him as part of our team!  

Mobil Classroom

I learn something new at every Farm Camp.  The field of agriculture is deep and rich and extensive, and every facet has its intricacies.  Our gratitude is great for our partners at the University of Arkansas Ag Extension Department who supply us with an endless range of learning opportunities.   Jason Davis hauled his traveling classroom four hours to give us the experience of an outdoor learning center in which he led us through a fascinating lesson on the use of GPS in agriculture.  He began with an advanced mathematical formula and ended up with a spray simulator that works like a video game.  And yes, it is all directly related to ag!  Jason gave our campers a vision to pursue their education and prepare for the many career opportunities that ag offers.  Experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math are all in demand for modern famers to continue safely feeding our world's growing population, and Jason inspired the next generation to be ready to take on the challenge.  

A Community Affair

One of my favorite parts about Farm Camp is the beautiful blend of folks who find their way to the farmhouse.  Lunch on Friday served as the platform for a community gathering as we opened our doors and enjoyed a cookout graciously sponsored by Rabo Agri Finance. Local farmers, regional salesmen and national bankers descended upon our little farmhouse to share a meal with our student campers, nurturing leaders and committed volunteers.  A wide variety of ages, careers, cultures, and backgrounds were represented as we gathered around to meet and learn together.  How exciting to discover commonalities in the midst of deep diversity!  

BBQ and Airplanes

Aerial Applicators take risks in their job every day.  Most of the risks involve flying long hours over acres of crops staying intensely focused on instrument readings and multiple gauges.  But some times the risks look like hosting a group of 30 students and leaders from Dallas for lunch in their hangar!  David Glover of Precision Air and Timber graciously welcomed us to his airplane hangar and served us a delicious BBQ lunch while we learned about his fascinating craft.  Ryan Simmons joined David as these men explained the strict federal safety regulations required for aerial farming.  We also learned about the speed of the aircraft, the weight it can carry, and the acreage it can cover.  Our time ended with a closeup look at the plane and a peak inside the cockpit.  What an enriching experience to Farm Camp!

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Invest In Your Community 

Greg Jones is a leader who is courageous and faithful, committed and fearless.  He serves as the Outreach Minister at West Dallas Community Church and took on the challenge of bringing his Middle School students to Farm Camp.  With his deep belief that the youth in his community desperately needed to experience the freedom and peace found in wide open spaces, he led them to our farm to receive the seeds planted in their hearts that could change the trajectory of their lives.  Greg saw the opportunity for the future of his neighborhood to be improved by showing these kids where their food is grown and learning how their bodies were designed to respond to it.  My respect for this kind gentleman knows no end.

Here Comes Summer!

As we look to our Summer Farm Camps with great anticipation, we wait expectantly to see how things will unfold.  But there is one thing we already know: it's going to be a tremendous time together as we learn to sustain ourselves and the environment!  

Spring Break 2017

No beach trips or skiing expeditions for us.  Nope, we headed to our farmhouse in rural southeast Arkansas!  The Mississippi River Delta might not be known for its tropical beach or mountain views, but it was a terrific setting for our unique week together on the farm.  We had the privilege of hosting Mercy Street at Farm Camp for Spring Break 2017!  And what a privilege it was......

Over 30 high school students and leaders from West Dallas joined us for an engaging time of learning about a complete healthy lifestyle through the lens of modern agriculture.  It was an honor to hear from experts in a broad range of fields.

Marvin Walker

Marvin Walker


Marvin Walker grew up in Southern California and moved to Dallas, TX with his lovely wife two years ago. Marvin played D1 football at Weber State University and is currently attending Dallas Theological Seminary.  He is actively engaged in the physical, emotional and spiritual development of young adults and has a heart for helping youth identify and embrace their purpose, believing that "Feeding your body with the proper fuel will transform you into a precious jewel!" The kids loved learning about healthy living from Marvin and were inspired to make longterm changes in their lives.

Rick Fields

Rick Fields


Rick Fields is the Science and Curriculum Coordinator for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, 4-H Youth Development program. Rick is a graduate of Alabama A&M University, where he earned a master's degree in Plant and Soil Science.  His engaging lesson on hydraulic/pneumatic systems uniquely and beautifully connected our areas of agriculture and health as he taught us that our heart displays a hydraulic system while our lungs model a pneumatic system of functioning.   

David Glover

David Glover


David Glover of Precision Air is an aerial applicator with over 20,000 hours of flight experience.   David and his team hosted us at their airport and taught us about ag aviation.  Among many interesting aspects of the industry, we learned about the federal regulations under which these professionals work to provide an invaluable service to crop farmers.  Our time at Precision Air ended with an impressive air show and personal peak inside the cockpit.  

Dr. Karen Ballard with Leigh Ann Bullington in the background

Dr. Karen Ballard with Leigh Ann Bullington in the background


Dr. Karen Ballard, Leigh Ann Bullington, and Keith Cleek from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Educators taught our students about soybean science.  We learned about the history and uses of soy and the importance of soy for human nutrition.  Did you know that the nitrogen added to the soil through the root system of this unique legume saved American agriculture during the Dust Bowl?!  Our special guests even gave us the pleasure of taste testing a number of soy food product!


Charles Graham is a renowned gospel singer who grew up working the fields with his family in the Mississippi River Delta.  After going away to college then traveling the world, he returned to the area and purchased the "big house" that he had only dreamed of seeing inside as a small boy.  He now uses his beautifully renovated home to welcome guests from around the world to spread the message of overcoming barriers and healing wounds in order to promote community.  What a privilege for us to gather and soak in this respite!

Outdoor Fun and Delicious Food!

Well, it wouldn't be Farm Camp without outdoor fun and delicious food.  There was plenty of both!  

We can't think of a better place to have spent Spring Break 2017!  Our time together brought us greater understanding of so many areas of wellness throughout our world, and we're all better for it.  See for yourself in this highlight video:




Fighting Childhood Obesity in Dallas: An Interview with Joy In Our Town

What a delightful conversation with Cheri Duckworth!  Cheri is the lovely host of a TV show (Joy In Our Town) that highlights the ways people are addressing public issues in the Dallas/Forth Worth area.  Rachel Logan, our Director of Media and Urban Strategies, joined me to tell our story of Farm Camp.  

Watch the video and learn about how we are combating childhood obesity in Dallas and beyond by taking underserved kids to our farmhouse to teach them where their food is grown and how to have a healthy lifestyle.

Farm Camp with Mercy Street Dallas - October 2016

Farm Camp with Mercy Street

Our second Farm Camp is in the books, and what an amazing trip we had!  This time, we partnered with High School girls from Mercy Street, a non-profit in West Dallas that focuses on building lasting relationships in the community and growing future leaders.

Farm Camp for Teen Girls

This Farm Camp was different than our first one, primarily because of the age differences, and also because this group of campers was all girls!  Brian Lonergan, formerly the minister to students and currently the Sports & Fitness Minister at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, was an integral part of the weekend.  

For the first time, many of these young women were able to see a positive male role model interact with them and his wife and their three children.  Brian brought humor, depth and meaning to our time together.

As we wrapped up Farm CampMonday morning, the Mercy Street leader, Rachel Kramer, gathered her group of precious girls together to have a debriefing time.  She asked them to take a few minutes to write in their journals what they had learned and what they would take away from their time at the farm.  I wish you all could have been flies on the wall to hear for yourselves, but I took pretty good notes.  Here's what I recorded:  

  • DJ said she realized how important it is to respect her body.  She listed off the areas of nutrition, purity, modesty, exercise and 'not doing harm to herself' as ones that came to mind where she wanted to make an effort to show more respect to her own body.
  • NC realized how unhealthy her diet has been and how she needs to eat more healthy foods.  She added that eating lots of healthy food throughout the weekend helped her see that "It's not bad.  It tastes pretty good."  
  • DH was very encouraged by the idea of "progress over perfection."  She expressed freedom to make progress in her health goals but not feel defeated and discouraged if she makes a bad choice.  She committed to "getting back on the horse" instead of being down on herself.
  • SG acknowledged that spending time on the farm and seeing the effort required to plant, nurture, harvest and transport our food makes her very thankful for the food she gets from the grocery store.  
  • KL was encouraged to learn that no matter what has transpired in her family life and her history, she is not limited in what she can do with her future.  Her family background does not define her.  
  • KM pondered the lesson that "everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial" with regard to her food choices.  She spoke about the fact that there is freedom to drink sodas but that's really not what's best for your body so she is motivated to make more 'beneficial' choices.  

We are so encouraged by the many volunteers who gave of their time and talents to make a difference and plant seeds of hope and a new way of life for our Mercy Street Friends.  

Farm Camp with Cornerstone Baptist Church in Dallas - July 2015

We wrapped up our very first Farm Camp, and it was such a huge success!

We took 12 kids and 2 leaders from South Dallas.  We taught them about nutrition and physical activity.  They took turns preparing, serving and cleaning up heathy meals for each other. 

Plenty of unstructured play time was allowed for them to play frisbee golf, soccer, kickball, and even plan and dig an elaborate water flow system from the irrigation water in the cotton field beside the farm house! 

Jim and other farmers came to give us tours of their rice, corn, soybean and cotton fields.  Kids clearly heard the gospel of Jesus which will give them eternal healthy life with Him!  

Most of them said they would eat more vegetables, cut down on sodas and be more active when they returned home.  Those sound like great seeds that were planted in their minds and hearts!

Out of the mouth of babes - quotes from our Farm Camp Kids:

"What are those?"  (pointing to blueberries)

"Is ALL this food for us?"

"Being out here...it just feels free."

"The showers...really?  Is it hot water??"

"What is corn on the cob?"

"What do you mean by 'play in the dirt'?"

"Does this tractor have a honk?"

"Every bite is delightful."

"That was my first s'more and it was great."


The First Farm Camp


What is Farm Camp?  It is the action piece of Connecting City to Farm.  Following our mission to promote healthy food choices for all budgets, we are beginning a new program in our organization, and there are only seven days until our very first Farm Camp!


Inception of an Idea

In May of this year, we joined many concerned Dallas leaders at the “Tipping the Scales for Children” event, hosted by The Cooper Institute and SMU's Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility.  After learning more about the overwhelming problem of childhood obesity (which affects 50% of children in Dallas County), we knew we had to do our part to make an impact in the lives of these children! 

What Is It?

Farm Camp is a three night learning adventure for kids living in underserved neighborhoods in Dallas.  We will travel to my family’s original farm house in Arkansas where these kids will be launched into a healthy lifestyle.  While our time will be full of agriculture-related activities, such as riding tractors, running free in cotton fields and meeting local farmers, the curriculum we’ve prepared for our young guests will focus on a complete healthy lifestyle.  


Curriculum of Complete Health

During mealtimes at Farm Camp, short lessons will be taught on the long-term benefits of good nutrition, physical activity, healthy relationships, moral character, unique purpose and sustaining faith.  The age-range will vary with each camp, with the youngest group being 8-10 year olds and the oldest group being high school kids.


Small Changes Bring Big Results

Our hope is to create an opportunity for children to see where their food is grown, what farmers do to raise crops, and how small changes in their food choices can make a big difference for generations to come.  


Pilot Program

We will host our very first (pilot) program July 18-21 with a small group of kids and leaders from the South Dallas community.  Several generous donations from families and small businesses will support gifts, meals and activities, such as souvenir water bottles, t-shirts, caps,  smoothie bowls for breakfast, tuna wraps for lunch, grilled chicken for dinner, water balloon fights, a glow night and tractor rides.


Planting Seeds to Grow More Beauty

Look for upcoming posts and pictures about how this exciting opportunity is unfolding as we plant seeds in the lives of these precious children.  Collaboration is welcome, so comment below with your ideas.  We wait expectantly to see how our joint efforts can make significant differences in the lives of many growing youths.