Food Pantry Celebrates 8 Years

04/23/2017 .
Saddleback Church

Saddleback’s Food Pantry is celebrating its 8th anniversary! This has been an amazing ministry for our members who have dedicated 250,000 volunteer hours to help meet the needs of our community. In the eight years of the Pantry’s existence, we’ve provided a week’s worth of food to over 72,000 families, served three million meals, and have brought 2,100 people to Christ. This enormous undertaking requires ongoing efforts to help meet our Daring Faith “A” goal.

That’s why this month we laid the foundation for our new PEACE Farm. Located at our Rancho Capistrano campus, the vision started in February to grow a 1.5-acre vegetable farm that would harvest 20,000 pounds of fresh produce for our eight Food Pantries.

Throughout the PEACE Farms will be 40 raised planter beds, each measuring 5 x 20 feet in length. The benefits of elevated planters are that they allow for aeration, pest control, drainage, weed control, an extended growing season, and easy access for volunteers who have difficulty bending or kneeling.

According to Steve Mahnke, Director of Saddleback Food Pantries, “The vegetables we glean from the PEACE Farm will be distributed to our eight facilities. The goal is that Saddleback’s small groups will adopt a planter to maintain, which not only builds community but also encourages involvement in local ministry.”

To date, the PEACE Farm team has graded the soil, installed an irrigation system, and constructed the first of the raised planters. By the end of May, the beds will be planted with seeds to produce tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, arugula, broccoli, herbs, and cucumbers.

Spearheading the agricultural side of the project is Tom Larson, who served as a consultant for the US Senate on sustainable practices. While there are no immediate plants to raise livestock, Tom recommends the PEACE Farm start small in order to educate members and provide serving opportunities. In addition to the raised planters, there will be an apple orchard, a teaching area, and solar-powered restrooms.

Assisting in this project are some of our own volunteers, as well as Eagle Scout troops that have built the first 10 raised beds as a community project. Our ministry team is also adding the PEACE Farm as a serving opportunity in the coming weeks, allowing our members to engage in the program as early as mid-May. Currently there are seven specialized skillsets where help in needed including irrigation, carpentry, fencing, painting, tree trimming, pest control, and gardening.

  If you want to help fill any of these needs, please contact Pastor Steve Mahnke at To visit the PEACE Farm in progress, head beyond the main entrance of our Rancho Capistrano campus, continue left past the library and soccer field, and wind ¼ mile along the windy road until you see the gardens.