Nonprofit group’s project honors veterans

HICKORY — Hickory Greenway Harvest dedicated its latest farm garden project in honor of U.S. military service veterans and in particular, a Hickory Metro U.S. Air Force veteran who took great pride in farming.

Established as part of its mission to educate about sustainable agricultural practices, generate fresh produce for area soup kitchens and build collaborations among like-minded organizations and volunteers, the project represents a partnership between nonprofit Hickory Greenway Harvest (HGH) and Raising Roots Farm, a family operated farm-to-table business providing fresh meat and produce in the Hickory Metro.

“This partnership is based on the concept that we feel there are significant opportunities for charitable organizations and for-profit businesses to work symbiotically together to accomplish a common mission,” says HGH founder and president Marcus Miller. “In the case of our Veterans Memorial Garden, we are working together to support our community’s military veterans who may be struggling with homelessness, a shortage of nutritious food or other personal challenges. The items that come from this farm are either going directly to veterans in need, or by way of meals that support more than 20 veterans served by organizations like Hickory Soup Kitchen and The Corner Table.”

HGH dedicated its Veterans Memorial Garden in honor of Albert “Bert” Abernathy (1930-2018), a Catawba County native and U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War who enjoyed farming and the fresh produce his gardens produced. Located at Raising Roots Farm in the Snow Creek community of northern Catawba County, the garden includes 8,500 square feet of planting capacity that will be utilized during three growing seasons: spring, summer and fall. A wide variety of vegetables will be nurtured and harvested from the garden’s 18 raised beds and three 2,000-square-foot, in-ground planting plots created by a volunteer force that also includes military veterans.

“It’s veterans helping veterans,” said Miller, a U.S. Navy veteran. “We’re proud to have veteran involvement, and we certainly welcome other military veterans who want to volunteer. There’s a therapeutic quality inherent in the physical labor and nurturing efforts required by a garden, but beyond that there is definitely a sense of fulfillment in knowing we are helping fellow veterans who need support in the battles they face today.”

In 2018, HGH harvested more than 1,275 pounds of fresh vegetables that went toward 3,378 meals served by Hickory Metro food service organizations including Hickory Soup Kitchen and The Corner Table. A 501(c)3, HGH established and manages six raised gardens with nearly 50 beds at locations including the SALT Block, Safe Harbor Rescue Mission’s residential facility and Hickory Soup Kitchen, in addition to the HGH Abernethy Farm in the Bandys community. The organization benefits from support provided by businesses like Hickory Greenway Harvest, GKN, Carolina Glove, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Farm Bureau of Catawba County, Southern States, and Transportation Insight, as well as charitable entities such as The SALT Block Foundation, Hickory Soup Kitchen, Rotary Club, Service in Action, Habitat for Humanity and First United Methodist Church of Hickory.

HGH’s Veterans Memorial Garden represents the organization’s first collaboration with Raising Roots Farm. The agribusiness donated land for the garden that sits adjacent to property utilized to raise livestock and accommodate aquaponics greenhouses.

“We’re grateful to Raising Roots Farm and its founder Brandon Berry for his vision about how nonprofit and for-profit organizations can work side-by-side to accomplish common goals,” Miller says, adding he is excited about the opportunities for future projects that can be mutually beneficial for both organizations. “We’re humbled by the opportunity to work with Brandon and his family, and we’re humbled by his decision to provide this land for our use as we work to fulfill needs that exist in our community.”

Raising Roots Farm is entering its third year of production of heritage breed hogs, with 70 pigs that represent genetics assembled throughout the United States, from Oregon to Florida. The agri-business supplies pork to Hickory Metro restaurants and directly to consumers. Later this year, the business will bring an 8,100-square-foot aquaponics greenhouse online to expand the farm’s fresh produce offerings for commercial and private consumption.

“Community involvement has been a focus of ours since we started the farm,” Berry says. “Building a farm requires a great deal of time, energy and skill. Simultaneously focusing on cultivating community outreach would have been too much for us to handle and requires a skill set we don’t possess. Partnering with Hickory Greenway Harvest was about bringing the right people and skills together to give us the best chance for success at developing a community-focused program.”

Founded in 2016, HGH is a group of like-minded co-workers, volunteers and master gardeners who seek to develop leaders while teaching the community about agriculture and sustainability. HGH aims to utilize gardening as a conduit for engaging the community with charitable giving, community organization, educational outreach and therapeutic development. For more on HGH, visit

Meditation: Get up or shut up


Associate Pastor, Exodus Missionary Outreach Church

Pastor, Emanuel Reformed Church


In the Gospel of John 5:1-18, we see the passage where Jesus encounters the man who has been lying by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, waiting to get in first when the water was stirred. In studying this familiar passage God showed me something new.

John 5:8-9

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”(C) 9 At once the man was healed; he picked up his mat and walked.

Using my sanctified imagination I think Jesus read the man’s mind and saw that he already had everything he needed to get up. He just hadn’t done it yet. He knew what he wanted to do but he was stuck between the decision to change and actually changing. It’s one thing to decide to change, but it’s another to actually do something new.

For 38 years the man said things like “Next time I’ll be quicker. Next time I’ll be paying more attention. Next time I’ll be ready. Soon I’m going to get up and get in the pool first.” He was ready to change but not doing anything except talk about it.

So what did Jesus do? He didn’t touch him, pray for him, or drive out any demons. All Jesus did was tell him to get up, and because he did, the man began to manifest the dreams he had lived in while laying on the mat.

Some of us are like this man. We have decided what we want to do, and we have what we need to do it. We have made a decision to take our life to the next level but we’re laying on our mat, sitting on our potential. We’re stuck in the middle between complacency and evolution. We’ve thought about it enough. We’ve talked about it enough. We know what we need to do. We have what we need to get started. It’s time for us to get up or shut up. The Lord is not interested in our excuses – He wants to see some action. 

We need Jesus to tell us to get up and get on with our dreams. We need to experience the power of his command to jump start us into action.

Jesus said he came so that we would have life and have it more abundantly. Lying on our mat dreaming about what we want to do someday is getting us nowhere. Someday is not a day of the week. The time for living is now. The time for realizing our full potential in life is today.

The great psychologist Abraham Maslov said we crave fulfillment in life. “What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self actualization.” 

The Russian writer Fyodor Dostoesky said that to the extent men and women are not living up to their potential – to that same extent they will abuse drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the boredom and frustration of living below their potential. Many people today are addicted because they are bored and frustrated, living below their potential.

Is Jesus telling you to get up? The Lord will help you do exceeding and abundantly more than you have ever asked for or thought about in your life. Start where you are. Stop talking about your dreams and start living them today. When Jesus tells you to get up and get on with your life he will also give you resurrection power to do more than you ever imagined possible.

Churches asked to participate in foster care event

HICKORY — Churches and any religious groups in Catawba County are being asked to participate in Foster Care Sunday on May 19. This event will emphasize the need for more foster parents throughout the county.

Foster Care Sunday is sponsored by Family Builders of Catawba Valley, the foster and adoption unit of Catawba County Social Services, which currently has more than 345 children experiencing foster care. There is an urgent need for more foster parents, who provide a temporary, loving home for these children until they can reunite with their parents, be placed with guardians, or be adopted.

Churches may participate in this outreach event by placing a notice in their church bulletin, making an announcement during church services, or by other means of their choice. Speakers will not be available for all churches, due to the large number of churches in the county, but can be arranged for later dates.

Family Builders can provide the following information to churches wishing to participate: detailed information regarding the need for more foster parents; written material such as rack cards, church bulletin inserts, flyers, etc.; announcement examples; and Christian videos about the need for foster and adoptive families. Pastors and other church leaders who are interested in this effort are encouraged to contact Megan Burns, Foster/Adoptive Parent Recruiter and Trainer. She may be reached at or by calling 828-695-4553. Additional information about the fostering process may be found at

“If one family in every Catawba County church would become a foster family, we would not have a shortage of foster homes,” Burns said. Foster parents must undergo a background check and attend training. “Our social workers are always available to respond to the needs and questions of foster parents,” she said. “We hope that church members in our county will prayerfully consider becoming foster parents.”

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