Common Ground Church Community is an Earth Care Congregation that was started by Steve Fortenberry. At first, it was a small home study group that was outreach oriented. During their house church stage there were approximately 10 people, but as the church grew Steve recognized the need for a new church development to fill the need for corporate worship, as well as the programming it could provide. In the fall of 2004, members were interested in purchasing property to build the Common Ground church. In 2005, Common Ground received their church charter and in 2006 purchased land in North Lima to make a place of their own. The faith community built their church on a 30-acre lot that was previously a garden center. They chose the site because they believed they could steward the site and create a blessing to the community. From this site Goodness Grows was formed, which, indeed, became an inspiration and a true blessing to the community.
Goodness Grows is a faith-based organization that works with community groups, congregations, workplaces, and individuals to help families “grow their way out of hunger and poverty.” Goodness Grows provides leadership and education to help create a healthier and sustainable community for future generations through agriculture. Steve and his faith community believe in caring for God’s creation and being good stewards of the earth, and their hard effort has paid off. In July 2007, Goodness Grows became their own separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Goodness Grows promotes local and organic agriculture rather than our conventional food distribution system. This creates high-value, healthier, and environmentally friendly food that the community can both appreciate and enjoy. This congregation, now about 80 worshiping regularly, has shown that they can have an impact.
Goodness Grows’ efforts have been well received by the local community and at the national level. Goodness Grows has completed range of projects—from community and school gardens to forming a community supported agriculture group that serves those with limited access to fresh food. Goodness Grows also has a Crop Grower Apprentice program which trains individuals to become agricultural entrepreneurs who can start their own self-sustaining farms. Goodness Grows’ hard work has won the organization multiple awards, and it has even been invited to local, regional, state, and national events.
Goodness Grows has been featured on TV, newspapers, and in Farm and Dairy. It has also been invited into several regional and state projects by Ohio State University. They have been invited to The White House for a USDA press event as well as a major summit in Washington D.C. to the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Scholars. In 2012, Youngstown State University awarded Goodness Grows with a MLK Jr. Award for community service. Goodness Grows truly is an award winning organization that can be an incredible inspiration to not just the faith community, but to everyone.