Plow Creek Fellowship, an intentional Christian community established in 1971, a mile south-east of Tiskilwa, Illinois, is announcing the close of its operations at the end of 2017. At its peak the community had up to a hundred participants in worship and common meals. Plow Creek Fellowship has been widely known for its u-pick strawberries and its sales of garden-fresh produce at area farmers’ markets.
Plow Creek Fellowship members shared in a common treasury. It was closely affiliated with Plow Creek Mennonite Church, a member of the Mennonite Church, USA. The Fellowship was guided by a commitment to share life, needs and resources according to the teachings of Jesus and the practice of the early Church as told in Acts 2-4. Peace-making and solidarity with refugees gained the community both respect and criticism. Over the years, many weary city-dwellers took retreats at Plow Creek, appreciating the natural beauty of its woodland trails, starry nights, campfires, and good pot-luck food. Plow Creek Fellowship was the site of several summer camp meetings for Shalom Mission Communities of which Plow Creek Fellowship was a member. One camp meeting in 2008 hosted a music festival with inspiring teachings for more than seven-hundred campers.
One of Plow Creek Fellowship’s most well known members was writer and pastor, Rich Foss, who, for a decade, wrote a weekly column in the Bureau Valley Chief until his death in January of 2017. Rich’s passing, plus the deaths of David Gale and Jim Harnish in late 2016, left only a dozen members who concluded that it was time to close up community operations and pass the property on to another non-profit ministry. This turned out to be Hungry World Farm, an offshoot of Willow Springs Mennonite Church.
Hungry World Farm is a new organization applying for not-for-profit status. It will receive the Plow Creek Farm and transition it into a new ministry utilizing the facilities and farmland. The idea of Hungry World Farm began through local conversations and a review of other farm-based ministries that teach about growing and consuming healthy food. Dennis Zehr of Coneflower Farm, Tiskilwa, and Calvin Zehr, Pastor of Willow Springs Mennonite Church, Tiskilwa, created a proposal which Plow Creek Fellowship accepted.
Hungry World Farm will focus on the following activities: educating people about food production, distribution, and consumption; addressing spiritual hunger in people’s’ lives; training local and international interns in farming techniques; and providing retreats for holistic growth and health. The transition will officially take place at the end of 2017.