Olivia Brown (left) and Judah Brown hold sweet potatoes at First Fruits Farm in Louisburg, N.C. Owned by their parents, Jason and Tay Brown, the farm supplies produce to help relieve hunger in eastern North Carolina. Photo courtesy of the Browns.

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First Fruits Farm

South Writ Large talked to Jason and Tay Brown about their hunger relief work through First Fruits Farm.


Jason Brown was once the highest paid center in NFL history, but he left at the height of his career to seek a different path in life. After several years of playing professional football, Jason says he began to reevaluate his life and think about what was really valuable to him. That’s when he decided to leave the NFL to return to his home state to help feed the hungry. Now Jason and his wife, Tay Brown, run First Fruits Farm in Louisburg, North Carolina, inspired by Jason’s brother, Spc. Lunsford Brown II, who was killed in Iraq in 2003, and with a mission “to show the love of Jesus Christ through hunger relief in Eastern North Carolina.”

Though Jason’s grandfather had owned a two-hundred-acre farm in North Carolina and battled racism as the leader of a local NAACP chapter, Jason himself knew nothing about farming. When threatened with violence during the early 1960s, Jason’s grandfather had moved the family to Washinton, D.C. Jason’s immediate family would move back to North Carolina nearly twenty years later, but they did not return to farming—so Jason had to learn his new vocation from scratch.

When asked to consider the concepts of abundance and scarcity and how they play into the work and mission of First Fruits Farm, the Browns say they consider abundance to be an “opportunity to share with your community.” While scarcity means “not having enough,” they believe that there is always room to give to others: “We give from what we have, even if it’s small.” The Browns have gone through times of both abundance and scarcity during their years on the farm, but they’ve never given up their mission of helping the hungry. No matter how much or how little they have at any given time, they want to share with others.

The farm’s first harvest of sweet potatoes in 2014 provided a striking example of abundance, not only in the amount of food that they grew but in the amount of help they received from their community. That year they harvested 120,000 pounds of sweet potatoes with the help 600 volunteers from the Society of St. Andrews. Over the years, they’ve also received unexpected donations and discounts on farm equipment and supplies, including the donation of a brand-new John Deere row crop tractor. They say, “God has always provided what we needed when we needed it.”

The Browns say people can help support their work and ministries by praying for them, volunteering with them, donating to them, and by starting their own gardens and sharing their harvests with their neighbors. Learn more about First Fruits Farm at https://wisdomforlife.org/firstfruitsfarm.