Benison Farm Receives Grant from The Episcopal Church

Benison Farm Receives $10,000 Grant from The Episcopal Church Executive Council and the Task Force on the Care of Creation and Environmental Racism

Benison Farm, a Good News Garden located at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg received notification that they were awarded $10,000 for its partnership restoring the larger Lake Maggiore/Salt Creek watershed in St. Petersburg. The grant will allow Benison Farm and its volunteers to restore an intersection waterway that connects the farm to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

According to their grant application, the “project seeks to clear the ditch and bog area of non-native plants and debris, so the ditch and bog can return to their natural function of providing a place to contain and filter storm and rainwater runoff.”

“At Benison Farm we love and serve our neighbors by providing fresh, organic produce to those who do not have the means to eat healthy foods. With this grant, we will be able to love and serve our neighbors in a different way,” said the Rev. Deacon Martha Goodwill, Executive Director of Benifon Farm.  “Salt Creek is a waterway of cultural and environmental significance, and it runs from our corner of St. Augustine’s property all the way to Tampa Bay, passing through many varied neighborhoods. Poor water quality and flooding adversely affect our neighbors’ health, just as eating unhealthy food affects their health. By partnering with other organizations, we will begin to restore this important waterway and in so doing, improve the health of our community. We are honored to receive this grant from The Episcopal Church Executive Council and the Task Force on the Care of Creation and Environmental Racism.”

As the grant application states regarding the project’s impact and outcomes, “The creek has a hard history in multiple senses of the word. Neighborhoods change and families who have lived along Salt Creek and the Lake Maggiore watershed for generations are now being priced out of the housing market. Economics and race intersect with the environment in ways that defy easy or pat answers.   With that said, this project will be a first step in restoring an important part of St. Petersburg’s ecosystem and will have a broad impact on its history and culture. With our significance at the beginning of the larger Lake Maggiore/Salt Creek watershed, we are in a unique position to engage our neighbors by hosting much-needed visioning and action conversations.”

About Benison Farm: 

Benison Farm began in 2018 as a partnership between two churches in St. Petersburg, Florida: St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, an historically Black congregation, and St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, a largely white congregation. Benison Farm has brought together two distinct groups of faithful parishioners for a common purpose: to serve the local community in need. The mission of Benison Farm is to provide fresh produce to the surrounding neighborhood, which is considered a food desert.