CONETOE, N.C. (WNCT) – “C-o-n-e-t-o-e is not cone toe. It’s Conetoe, and its moving,” said Reverend Richard Joyner, founder of the Conetoe Family Life Center. “It has united us as a community.”
“The Conetoe Family Life Center is designed to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the community,” explained Garrie Moore, executive director of the Conetoe Family Life Center. “In eastern North Carolina, diabetes, heart disease are two of our major issues. This center is making a difference. What we do is to run a very large garden. We also educate the community and the youth.”
Perhaps one of the more impressive things about the garden is the fact that it’s open to anyone. You can literally go, pick whatever fresh vegetables you might need, take them home with you, and make yourself a nice, fresh, healthy family meal.
“We started out with a small plot of land and started growing a garden,” said Moore. “It caught on.”
“We have 46 youth that are here every day,” said Joyner. “They learn how to plant, harvest, and eat healthy food. They learn about chronic disease; they learn about prevention.”
These lessons have already been life changing for this small community.
“I prayed,” said Joyner. “And I believe God spoke to me and said look around, what do you see? There was nothing but land. And I responded back: is there anybody else up there I can talk to? Because I wasn’t in love with farming, but farming has been in love with us.”
“You now see citizens walking, running, getting exercise,” added Moore. “You see the community coming out to the garden to pick fresh vegetables so they can prepare them. Reverend Joyner is a very driven young man who really has a passion for helping others.”
A passion that rubs off on everyone he meets.
“He’s been in my life a pretty long time,” said Joshua Newkirk, a teen who has been a part of the program from the start. “I would not have the leadership skills I have today if it wasn’t for Conetoe Family Life Center.”
“I don’t know where he gets all of his energy from but he’s on the go it seems like 24/7,” said Moore.
“I want to see us turn the eastern part of North Carolina green,” said Joyner. “That’s where I hope the future would be that our health won’t come out of the bottles but it will come from the root.”
“He is a guy who is going to make a difference, who has made a difference, and will make an even bigger difference here,” added Moore.
“I’m just hoping that this is bigger than us,” said Joyner.
Joyner hopes the movement extends far beyond Conetoe.