Fresh Food, Locally Grown: The Path Farm

If you are interested in fresh food grown locally without pesticides, then The Path farm co op is a program worth learning more about. The Path grows seasonal vegetables without pesticides on 15 acres of land loaned by a local church, Hernando-Church of the Nazarene. For nearly a decade, the farm has touched our entire community.

Don’t miss out on fresh, pesticides-free kale, lettuces, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage,  bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower & much more! Call 352-527-6500 x8 to find out about payment plans & how to enroll.

co-op-photoThe Path’s farm provides vegetables, physical exercise and a work program for the men and women at The Path, who participate in all farm and co-op distribution activities. The farm improves recovery with physical exercise, healthy food to combat malnutrition, and better life-skills.  Path clients learn to grow healthy food and then how to
prepare it through The Path’s onsite “Healthy Eating” classes.

The Path Farm Co-op was started during 2010 in response to public demand for fresh vegetables grown without using inorganic chemicals and pesticides. Pickups are weekly on Saturdays, 11:30am-4:30 pm, at The Hernando Farmer’s Market produce stand on Hwy. 41 (just south of Chicken King).

One Co-op member, Diane Kahler from Dunnellon, shares her experience:  I like the idea of getting veggies that don’t have any sprays on them. Yes, there may be a few leaves that the bugs have enjoyed and I’m okay with that. The Path veggies and the farm is a win/win. It teaches folks how to work, how to enjoy seeing the “fruit of the labor”, teaches them how good real, fresh veggies can taste and the memberships give money to the organization for not only the farm but for other projects. Another good thing is that I’m also learning about trying veggies that we didn’t eat in New Jersey. Collards? Never ate them before I got them from The Path…and now I love them. I have my cook books out looking for ways to use the veggies. And eating a lot of veggies is also good for my diabetic husband.”

Weather conditions have a lot to do with the varieties that grow during a season, when each vegetable is ready for harvest, the quantity and how long a particular vegetable is available, and how much food is harvested weekly. Vegetables will vary in size and appearance during the season, looking and tasting similar to those you would grow in your own home garden. The varieties grown at The Path Farm are chosen for flavor and ability to produce well in this climate, and are not expected to look perfect.

Our farmer aims to give you as much quantity and variety available at each weekly harvest and may supplement from time to time– we’ll do our best to inform you.

A variety of membership options and payment plans are now available. Call 352-527-6500 x8 to sign up today. Your participation in The Path Farm Co-op plants seeds of hope to feed the hungry and build a healthier community.


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Helping Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

I was reminded of the encounter of Jesus with a Samaritan woman at a well outside the city during the hottest part of the day. She went there at an inconvenient time and place possibly to avoid being subjected to scorn over her lifestyle from the other women who met at the well in the city. The wife of five previous husbands, this woman was currently living with a man she was not married to (see John 4:1-26).mom and baby

How in the world will she ever find the way to a right relationship with God in the place and lifestyle she was in?  What hope was there for her? So Jesus went to her Himself and presented the truth, about her and about Him.  And truth changed her and set her free.  She had found living water and would never thirst again…

Remembering all those promises and prayers to God for direction, I find myself today in Citrus County, Florida, working full time with a gospel rescue mission called The Path.  To put it more simply, working for a faith-based homeless shelter that provides a structured living environment and a variety of programs that address spiritual, physical and emotional needs of homeless men and women who want to change their lives, become employed so they can support themselves and family, and maintain a stable, permanent place to live.  And, break the cycles that keep them from doing so.  In the broader context, The Path helps people change from being takers in a community to contributors in a positive, productive and healthy way.

What I have discovered is that it’s not just the homeless who are finding healing and purpose through The Path:  our supporters and staff do as well.  We find deep healing, peace, and fulfillment in giving to help someone else—whether it’s giving time or talents, material goods or money. There is a great blessing in giving, and being able to see the direct impact of those gifts.  I see it every day in the faces of the transformed men and women who make it to The Path and work hard to begin to rebuild their lives.  The word
“success” takes on a brand new, and very specific meaning for each of them.

I wonder some days if we really can make a difference.  From their point of view, we do.  No one can say they aren’t shown how to make a better life for themselves.  No one can say they haven’t heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and can know Him personally.  At The Path, they do live a different life from the lifestyle that brought them there.  But we still have to turn many away for lack of space.  True, some don’t want to make the commitments required to change. But others do.

Most are desperate and full of despair.  So many are women with children, no one to turn to, no place to go.  Like Sara and Veronica.  I met both of them, and the most striking things are the haunted look in their eyes and the maturity in their children.  The concern they show for their mother.  The fear and shyness around strangers, particularly men.  I cry every time I remember seeing those things.

This is Sara’s story, as written by my husband, DuWayne Sipper, Executive Director of The Path:

Sara called me one afternoon, and after thousands of phone calls, you naturally begin to pick up tones and words.  I know what the phone call is about in just a couple of seconds.

“Hi, I was given this number and they said you might be able to help me? I have two children, and I am eight months pregnant, and I have to leave this place.”

“How old are the children and what are their sexes?” I asked, knowing full well that The Path cannot take boys with their mother if they are over puberty.  The present conditions are too close and the risk is too high for other mothers staying in the shelter.  Without the money to expand the shelter, we have chosen this route to help as many as we can and the category of women with small children is the highest.

“The girl is 2 and the boy is 7,” she said, and her voice begins to quiver as they often do when the full realization of the situation they are in begins to sink in.

“Where is the father of your unborn child?” I usually ask this question to see if there are possibilities of working with the father of the children in finding a home.

“He’s gone.  I don’t know where he is.” Now with the sound of tears in her voice.

The unbelievable burden and saga that a young mother goes through in her hopes of finding love and security through a man with good values continues as it has through the ages… In most of the cases we deal with, the father has now changed his mind about helping to feed, support and raise his children.  The reasons are varied and really don’t matter.  It is a severe erosion of commitment and understanding of a man wanting sex who does not think about the consequences until too late.   In this case, the father of the first two was different from the current pregnancy.  This, too, is a common occurrence in America:  young women trying desperately to find someone who will help her take care of her babies.

“Do you have family?” I said.

“I have a mother in New York.”  Her voice is slow and blank, as she tries to think while speaking.

“Will she take you back?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” she said, “I have done some bad things…”

DuWayne’s article ends here with a “to be continued” but I know the ending:  Sara was one of the fortunate ones.  After some phone calls, we were able to help mother and daughter reconcile.  A few more phone calls, and we had donors lined up to put together the bus fare for Sara and her children to travel to upstate New York.  Path staff helped Sara put together food for the trip. Donated suitcases, clothes, jackets and sweaters, socks and sneakers were gathered up quickly to equip this little family for their two-day bus trip.  Through hugs and tears, Sara was sent off to stay with her mom and have her baby with family. DuWayne and I prayed with her before she left us. We knew she was nervous and scared…

Veronica’s story was very similar, but I don’t know the ending.  You see, we had to send Veronica away from The Path because we didn’t have any room for her when she needed our help.  I’ve never forgotten her.  I pray for her almost every day…

I was filling in at The Path office, covering for vacations, when there was a knock on the door.  A young woman, in her early thirties walked in with a young boy, who was almost hiding behind her, like he wanted to be invisible.  We rarely get walk-ins, so I knew something dramatic—or traumatic—had taken place to bring her to The Path like this.  After speaking to her in calm tones, reassuring her and making sure no one was hurt, I began to ask gently what her situation was.  It goes something like this:

“Veronica, tell me what happened to bring you here.  Most call in first.”

“I had nowhere to go, and the police had to come to the house I was at because my fiance’s parents started yelling and throwing things and threw me out.  The police told me to come here, that you could help me, and the neighbors let me borrow their car.”

“How did you come to be living with your fiance’s parents?”

“I was living in  St. Pete and lost my job as a book-keeper.  I’ve been doing that for about 10 years.  I met my fiancé at my apartment complex and we had been living together. When I lost my job, we couldn’t afford to stay there and came here.”  Looking down, she said quietly, “I’m pregnant.”

I wondered to myself if that’s what caused all the fighting and arguing, but there was one thought that interrupted all that:  where was the fiancé?  Since he wasn’t with her now, I suspected that he wasn’t all that concerned, or committed to any relationship, and wondered if she was calling him “fiancé” to fool herself or to save herself the embarrassment with us.

Instead, I spoke to the little boy and greeted him.  He shrunk back and wouldn’t speak.  So, I got some crayons and paper to occupy him.  And turned to Veronica.  “You haven’t eaten anything today, have you?”  Tears in her eyes, she shook her head no.  “You are probably not feeling too well either, are you?”  Again shook her head no.  I said as gently as I could, “Your fiancé just watched while his parents screamed at you and threw you out?” Looking at the ground, barely whispering, tears streaming now down her face:  “Yes…”

I got her some tissues, some water and gave her half my sandwich and the other half to her son.  I called out to one of the women staying at the shelter and asked her to get some food together for them.  While that was all being taken care of, I continued with my questions. I was struggling with the reality of the situation:  we had no room at The Path shelter for her.  The Path was full.  How was I going to tell this desperate pregnant woman and her child that she couldn’t stay? There had to be someone who would be willing and able to help her… Somebody out there must care about her…

“Veronica, what about your family?”  She responded, “Well, I don’t know exactly where they are.  My mother was in Georgia.”  Anticipating my next question, she said “but I haven’t spoken to her in over ten years and I’m not sure where she is exactly.  I HAVE NO ONE TO GO TO!” I knew enough by now to not ask about her father—she may not know who her father is, much less where he was.  I calmed her as best as I could, just as DuWayne arrived.

Quickly assessing the situation, he told her that we had no room for her and her son presently and told her what the other shelter options were.  The only other shelter in Citrus County that took women was full. We had no other choice but to call the shelter in Brooksville—about 30 or so miles away.  Miraculously this shelter had room and agreed to take them. The neighbor agreed to drive them there.

DuWayne and I prayed with her.  We had to send her away.  I never saw or heard from Veronica again.  To this day I wonder if she’s all right, if she found a job and a decent place to stay, if her boy and her unborn child are safe and ok.  I made promises to God that day, too:  that I would pray for her every day, that I would tell her story to everyone who would listen, and that I would dedicate my life to rescuing others in similar situations.

Veronica, I’ll never forget you.  I hope you are ok.  I pray every day that you, your son, and your child are safe.  I’m so, so sorry we couldn’t help you, Veronica…

But I know God can…

Kathryn Sipper


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Fresh Food Grown Locally Benefits Everyone

IMG_0509It has been over 10 years now since I first heard the whisper to grow food. No, it was not a field of dreams whisper where I heard, ‘build it and they will come.’ It was simple: grow food. I would hear this when I woke up probably once every two weeks. I am sure I did what most of you would have done. I am imagining it or it is just random thoughts going through my head.

No, it was consistent and it would not stop. This went on for months!

At this time, I was living in the shelter and I had dietary problems of my own– but what was more important was to actually live with people and watch them struggle with their diets. When the shelter first started, none of us had a lot of money and I found out first hand that I, just as the shelter clients, ate terribly on a low income. Whatever was cheap, tastes good and was filling, definitely did not always make you feel good. There were many, many days where I struggled. My normal quiet calm demeanor was anything buy quiet and calm with emotional swings that I think were from food. By this time, I had already experienced a severe bi-polar person checking in to the shelter and they were not so bi-polar after changing some life habits and their food.

A man showed up one day with a friend of mine, Doug Lobel (this man may have been at one time on my board but I don’t think he was at this time), and the volunteer drove me crazy because he did not want to do anything I had for a volunteer! He was just about to walk away when he said he had been raised on a farm. Within one week, he had our back yard torn up and a vegetable garden planted.

Two years later, the Hernando Church of the Nazarene let us use ten acres and we were in the farming business. Since then we have planned to make food sustainable for our clients and county. It has been a tough road.

Farming is hard work but the payoff is worth it. Our clients can have all the food grown at the farm that they want. Often, our clients having worked at the farm for a couple months are ready to work almost anywhere. The farm has turned out to make our program well rounded for everyone.

For the last two years, we have had the best food all twelve months of the year without using pesticides, money can buy. We have a farm cooperative to help us sell our vegetables to the public which, in turn, helps us keep the farm program alive. Last year, we lost $30,000 on this program. I need your help. I believe in this program with all of my heart.

If you want this food, I encourage you to give us a call at 352-527-6500 x8.

DuWayne Sipper, Executive Director- The Path

September 2015

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Men at The Path Finding Full Time Jobs

HiRes_4777423976108Something different is happening at The Path. I remember when we were in the housing explosion here in Citrus County, the contractors, especially the brick layers could not wait for our guys to help them with the bricks in building the houses.  This went on for over a year. Then, just as fast as it came, it went away.

For ten years now, our people in the shelter have struggled to find jobs.

Now when I say job, I don’t mean a few hours a week and you probably are not going to go very far in getting out of the shelter and providing for yourself. Our goal here is to make sure you don’t have to come right back to the shelter because you were not making enough money to support yourself. There are too many people who need our services.

For several months now, our men are finding full time jobs, many of them above minimum wage. This has caused The Path to rent another house in Beverly Hills to help us with our programs. Normally we do not have a problem with the men helping us with the bargain stores and the farm, but with the new development we are rethinking how we do everything here.

We are starting to see a shortage of help and the last thing we want to do is take away from our other services. I have said in the past that I think a true crime is when men want to go to work and can’t, no matter what the reasons are. It is hard enough to get people to want to work and when they want to, they should. In America, work translates into money and money for the men translates into taking care of their families or their problems to get them out of the shelter where they make more choices of their own.

While they are at the shelter, we try to help them with choices that will be constructive. The men are a lot more agreeable when they find work or work that is helping them with their situation. The mood sure is a lot better than frustrated people.

Our program is going to grow. Not because it makes money, just the opposite. It’s because Citrus County and it’s residents have recognized the work and for lack of a better word, it is good. The Path for the last 2 years is 100% privately funded by you. We take care of these people because the Bible tells us to and who knows, one of these guys might end up working for you?

DuWayne Sipper, Executive Director

July 2015

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A good meal changed my life

Jason had been living in the woods for five months before he connected with The Path. Addicted, suicidal, severely underweight — and very hungry — Jason needed a good meal. And the healing only Jesus Christ can give.

PCC1504A 1-up reply+letter.inddJason (name changed for the protection of privacy) arrived at The Path for a meal and a safe place to sleep.  Soon, he was working at The Path Farm and in our stores, and helping out in the food pantry.

Most importantly, Jason accepted Jesus Christ and was baptized.  He recalls, “My life just felt completely different the second he brought me out of that water.  It was like a million pounds came off my back!”

Today, Jason is drug-free and 54 lbs. heavier, thanks to the nourishing food you help to provide! To friends like you, Jason says, “You’re life savers! You keep clothes on our backs, food in our stomachs, a safe place to sleep.  I can’t thank you enough.”

Will you make an online gift right now to help provide meals and renew hope this summer?

For people in crisis, a summer day is just like any other: struggling to survive and make ends meet. There are no vacations from homelessness, poverty and hurt.

That’s why we are so thankful for friends like you, who support The Path all year long. And over the next three months, you can open the door of hope to neighbors who are desperate for a fresh start.

Here’s how:

  • Take The Path’s 2015 Summer Challenge.
  • Commit to helping our poor and homeless neighbors once in June, again in July and once more in August.
  • See how a simple gift each month provides practical help and lasting hope for real people like Jason– hungry and facing hard times.

Will you take The Path’s 2015 Summer Challenge? Simply give online today! 

Thank you for helping to provide good food, safe shelter and compassionate care to hurting neighbors.

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3 Ways to Change a Life: Give food. Give shelter. Give hope.

For people like Tom, the gift of a satisfying meal and a warm bed is often the beginning of renewed hope.

Homeless and sleeping in the woods, Tom was beaten and robbed. Hurt and desperate for help, Tom committed a petty crime just for the security of a jail cell.

Jail was the best place for Tom, because that’s where he heard about The Path!  For Tom, The Path was a safe haven from a tough world. Tom plans to stay on for a while once he’s employed so he can save some money, get firmly on his feet and go deeper in his walk with the Lord.

By providing nourishing meals, a peaceful night’s rest or assistance in other areas of service, your online gift today can start someone like Tom on the path to a new life in Christ. And, in our community!

Will you make a generous online gift right now  to help provide nourishing meals, safe shelter and lasting hope to our brothers and sisters in need?

It’s exciting to see men and women at The Path begin to feel hope — especially when their past year was filled with hardship.

Thank you for your prayers as we prepare to care for our hungry and homeless neighbors this busy Thanksgiving season.  Men and women at The Path will surely give thanks for you, too!


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Urgently Needed Items! As of 6/1/2015

The Path needs canned goods and several household items:

Bleach, 13 gal. Garbage bags, Dish soap, Pine Sol, Toilet Paper, Window cleaner

Collecting needed household and other items for The Path is a great community service project for groups, businesses, Sunday School and Missions, and other organizations! Call 352-527-6500 extension 9 to arrange pickup or drop off of collected items– Thank you

Check out Get Connected! for other needs & visit our Volunteer page to learn more about serving at The Path.


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Interested in fresh, pesticides-free food grown locally? Try The Path Farm Co-op!

IMG_1658Support Healthy Lifestyles- Naturally Grown Vegetables, No Pesticides

Looking for a local farm co-op to join?

Consider membership with The Path Farm Co-op. Memberships by season (Oct-Mar or Apr-Sept) or monthly (credit card only). Call 352-527-6500, ext 8 for prices, payment options, questions, or to sign up by phone.

The Path Farm Co-op offers your family the opportunity to enjoy a variety of healthy vegetables and greens. Click on the link and scroll down the page to download The Path’s Farm & Co-op brochure and learn more!

Why would your family want to join The Path Farm’s Co-op? Mainly for the freshest vegetables you can buy and to support our community. Most vegetables are harvested within 24 hours of the time you receive them. That means they have less time to lose their flavor and nutritional value. Perhaps for health reasons, no pesticides or preservatives being sprayed on your food is attractive to you. The Path Farm grows naturally using environment-friendly resources– like worm castings, river muck and other nutrient-rich resources to grow tasty, nutritious vegetables.

Supporting The Path’s Farm Co-op means you are helping the men and women at The Path shelter improve their lifestyles. The Path grows, harvests and prepares your co-op basket. All you have to do is pick it up and enjoy.

The vegetables you receive from The Path’s farm will vary in size and appearance during the season, looking and tasting similar to those you would grow in your own home garden. The Path raises vegetables that grow best in this area during the growing seasons, approximately six months– April through the end of September for summer veggies, and October-March for winter veggies. Weather (rain, cold, heat, drought and other seasonal factors) affect a vegetable’s availability so quantity and variety can vary from week to week.

Members receive a basket of locally-grown vegetables on a weekly basis according to whatever is ready for harvest that week. Occasionally, The Path has been able to offer “U Pick It” days: an opportunity for co-op members to pick their own vegetables. The health benefits are well worth the risk! Find out more or enroll by calling 352-527-6500 x8.

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Immediate Volunteer Needs!

You can help The Path and make a difference in the lives of men and women in need of hope. How? Check out these current needs for yourself or a friend:

  • Parenting Coaches– train Path clients in Effective Parenting skills. Very basic from prepared material. Every other Monday night, 1 hour, onsite at The Path.
  • Employment Coaches– train Path clients in Effective Employment Searching. Very basic from prepared material: resumes, online applications, contacting managers for potential jobs & follow-up, how to do a simple interview, appropriate dress to job-search, etc.–plus other program topics as needed. Weekly, Monday nights- 1 hour, 8-week session rotation. Onsite at The Path.
  • Nutrition Coaches– teach Path clients Nutrition Basics using the vegetables they grow at The Path’s farm, teach healthy eating using less fat, salt, sugar & balanced diets– plus any other program topics as needed. Every other Monday night, 1- 1.5 hours onsite at The Path.
  • Alcoholics Victorious Coach for Women– to lead Christian, biblically-based 12-step program for women to promote recovery from broken relationships, destructive habits & addictions of all kinds. Based on the 12-step AA program. Every Tuesday night, 1- 1.5 hours onsite at The Path.
  • Receptionist/Greeters– assist staff at our new office by greeting office guests & directing donations, scheduled handymen, and other requests; light office work & answering phone calls as needed. Generally needed 11am-3pm, week days. Number of days to fit your schedule!
  • Bargain Store Sales Associates at The Path’s Dunnellon Bargain Store on W Pennsylvania- greet customers, ring up cash & credit card purchases, getting clothing tagged & on racks. Currently need teams of 2-3 on Tuesdays or Fridays to cover an 8-hour day (we could stagger the schedules to cover the 8-hour period).
  • Transportation help– Use Path vans to transport clients to ad hoc appointments & other needs. Path Office Manager would contact you in advance with schedule.
  • Food Drive volunteers– help us collect needed items for The Path at scheduled stores one Saturday per month.

Call The Path’s Volunteer Coordinator, Debi Eorgan at 352-527-6500 x9 or email at to let us know if you or a friend would be interested in any of these volunteer positions.

Visit The Path’s website and click on GET CONNECTED to download a Path Volunteer application. We can also mail one to you if you are not able to download the form.

We love and appreciate our volunteers and recognize that we could not do this ministry without you!

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Welcome to the World of RESCUE

Image    At The Path, we refer to ourselves as a “gospel rescue mission.” Many are not familiar with the term, which describes our purpose and what we do.  Many also do not know we are part of a national association—the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). Rescue missions pull people to safety from adverse conditions, and from choices and habits that lead to damage and death. We present people with a gospel that is about life transformation in Jesus. Our programs help people break the bonds of addiction and desperate behavior, and experience healing and wholeness. Our labors of Christian love prepare people to dwell in our communities, and to have meaningful roles leading to stability and purposeful living.

    Gospel is part of our name because our leaders are compelled foremost by Jesus’ instructions to actively care for those in need, and to introduce them to the liberating good news of His kingdom and all it represents. Our name includes rescue because delivering those in need from danger is the critical and consuming first part of a sometimes slow but always exciting journey that leads to new desires, choices, and direction in life.  The word missions is in our name because those in need see each of their structures as a bastion of protection and a refuge from fatigue and failure, similar in concept to those Southwestern sanctuaries built by pioneering padres long ago.

    The Path’s Rescue Mission and Farm Project can address many needs here. We can provide work, training, organically-grown food to the community at all economic levels, a farm co-op, and in the future, even more beneficial opportunities.

    With your help, we can provide these and teach our neighbors to provide for themselves. The often-quoted ancient Chinese maxim still rings true: “Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day—teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Families become hunger-free when they can provide for themselves. To all our friends and neighbors in Citrus and Marion Counties: Welcome to the world of rescue and thank you for being a part of this community mission.

    In His Service,

    DuWayne and Kathryn Sipper- The Path of Citrus County

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