The Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ), headquartered in the Philippines, purchased and plan to reopen the shuttered mushroom farm in Shoshoni. They hosted a ribbon-cutting today, January 21st, with Shoshoni Mayor Joel Highsmith to celebrate the opening of their very first eco-farming outreach project in the United States.
The exact details on how the church came to learn about and purchase this mushroom farm are not clear. They have been working on a partner mushroom eco-farm near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, shared Iglesia Ni Cristo U.S. representative Bob Pellien. A person in that area turned them onto this closed farm here.
Mayor Highsmith shared during his speech today that everything happened so quickly. “You were seeking a business permit last week,” he noted. He also shared appreciation for reopening the farm and providing jobs to the community.
Even though they were applying for a business permit last week, they have been doing studies and looking into things like what happened to the previous farms that operated there, Bob explained.
They expect to start on a smaller employment scale with a few dozen employees — most of their other farms are substantially larger and employee hundreds. They are also bringing Stanley Dolinar back to manage the farm. He was the General Manager of Rocky Mountain Mushrooms LLC that once operated at that farm. He will also handle hiring. Exact details of the hiring process have not been solidified yet.
Eco-farming is done in a way that doesn’t consume the land, shared Bob. “Sustainable agriculture is another way of saying eco-farming.” Employees can expect to be trained in sustainable farming.
The church has 37 eco-farms, mainly in Africa and the Philippines. “Usually, we go to places that are leveled and destroyed,” Bob said. “We go in there and feed them. Give them clean water, etc…for a period of time. But then we create something that enables them to work for themselves.” We are not doing this for a profit, but want to break even.
They hope to build a church, Bob noted. “We are not shy in saying, we hope we can bring people closer to Christ. There is certainly no pressure on those who work there to join the church.”