News Release

NAACP and the Church Collaborate to Improve a Community Farm in San Francisco

The Florence Fang Community Farm serves more than 100 families

Dozens of volunteers gathered on Saturday morning, October 22, 2022, in San Francisco to help carry out a prophet’s vision of coming together in community service.

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In only a few hours, the group installed an irrigation system at the Florence Fang Community Farm. This system will help the growing farm, now in its eighth year, continue to provide fresh food to a diverse and underserved community that inhabits a food desert. Importantly, the farm can now do so in a water-wise way.

“This is a milestone for us because we are really trying to develop a hyperlocal food system for the Bayview [neighborhood],” said Teddy Fang, the farm’s executive director and son of its namesake. “This project is a cornerstone of what we will be doing in the future.”

Saturday’s collaboration is the first of many U.S. humanitarian efforts that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will engage in across the country.

In 2021, Church President and Prophet Russell M. Nelson pledged US$2 million a year for three years to fund these projects.

San Francisco is home to the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, a renowned civil rights leader and pastor of the city’s Third Baptist Church. The Rev. Dr. Brown is a friend of the prophet, who created a student fellowship to Ghana in his name.

Several months ago, Robert Turley, president of the Church’s San Francisco California Stake, sat in the Rev. Dr. Brown’s office with a small group of people, floating ideas for humanitarian outreach.

“On the whiteboard, we had so many big ideas,” Turley said. “And we said, ‘We need to start somewhere. Let’s start here in the community. Let’s start in this garden.’ … It’s fun to see things that were once on the whiteboard out here in practice and see the happiness on folks’ faces as they’re standing with gloves and shovels and getting to work.”

“This is a wonderful day,” added Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy. “We’re here from all kinds of backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, all working together to make this extraordinary garden a better place. And the real benefit today is the working together. When society generally is showing so many fractures, this is pulling all kinds of people together, and we’re delighted to be a part of it.”

Elder Kearon was accompanied by Elder Mark A. Bragg, a native of Los Angeles and the faith’s North America West Area President.

“What touched me was not just the community and not just the diversity of the people that are here, but the diversity of what they’re doing here,” Elder Bragg said. “You’ve got crops here. You’ve got chicken production. You’ve got honey. You’ve got organic farming. I just love how they brought everything together, and it truly represents this area. I couldn’t think of a better project to start on than this one.”

Jonathan Butler, the second vice president of the NAACP San Francisco Branch, said such service is critical to solve the “division and isolation that is happening in our communities that is a detriment to our own health and well-being.”

“Love is the essence of what we’re doing,” Butler said. “We love ourselves, and then we love each other. And that is under the umbrella of loving God.”

Veronica Shepard, a director in San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, praised Saturday’s service as “kingdom work.”

“We’re lifting up the kingdom of God,” Shepard said. “The vision that I see is that we will learn and engage from each other — cultural norms, understanding cultural experiences, unpacking what we’ve learned about each other, good and bad. And then creating a new narrative that embraces us all for just being the human beings we’ve been created to be on planet Earth so we can then come together and understand our purpose. I’m excited about that.”

The NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ have been in close collaboration for nearly five years. The organizations came together in May 2018 to call for greater civility and racial harmony in society. President Nelson spoke at an NAACP national convention in 2019. In addition to the funds for humanitarian projects and the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown Student Fellowship to Ghana, the prophet pledged US$1 million per year over three years to fund scholarships for Black students.

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