The Lord’s Acre
As Ed Dills surveys his 16-acre farm near Falcon, he’s surrounded by rows and rows of carefully planted cabbage, beans, carrots and squash.
There’s a miracle that happens on this acre of land where Ed grows produce for Springs Rescue Mission. One could call it the
“Lord’s Acre,” because it is the heart of his mission to feed the hungry guests of Samaritan’s Kitchen.
“I felt led by the Lord to provide fresh foods for everybody,” he said.
Ed and his network of farmers donated 33,000 pounds of produce to Samaritan’s Kitchen in 2018 and have contributed more than 200,000 lbs in total. That accounts for about two-thirds of the fresh produce the Mission serves each year.
“It’s a very important thing — I don’t know what we’d do without it,” said Chef Manny Coss. “And he’s not trying to get anything out of it. This is truly him. He’s just trying to give back — and he does that in enormous ways.”
I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke
Ed didn’t set out to become a farmer — especially one with a mission to feed the hungry. He moved with his family from North Carolina to Colorado as a boy. And yes, the family always had a vegetable garden.
“We had a small garden for about as long as I can remember,” he said. “But it really evolved because of
Ed’s father worked at Coca-Cola in Colorado Springs, so it wasn’t a surprise when Ed started working there as a teen. His full-time employment began in the bottling plant, and from there he rose through the ranks. Most of his career with the company was spent in marketing and management.
Ed and his wife Terese bought a farm outside Falcon, where they enjoyed the peace and quiet of the country.
But in 1991, Ed’s life took an unexpected turn. He slipped on an icy walkway, and the resulting back surgery did not go well. Suffering chronic pain, Ed became disabled and retired from Coca-Cola.
“You never know where the Lord is going to take you,” he said. “But you never think it will be somewhere like that.”
His doctor suggested gardening as a good way to deal with the pain, and Ed embraced the idea. He and Terese began growing vegetables on their land, and over the years the garden grew.
“I think everyone wants to succeed at something,” he said. “When my doctor encouraged gardening, I really jumped on board. It’s evolved from there, and it’s been a real blessing.”
After a few years of “garden therapy,” Ed no longer needed a walker.
And what started with a few pounds of produce each month soon grew into a major operation.
“I consider it doing work for the Lord,” he said. “A lot of people go on mission trips. I can’t really travel — but I can do this.”
Through Pain Comes Strength
Ed is disabled and — after 23 surgeries — still deals with chronic pain. But that doesn’t stop him from loading up his pickup truck to deliver fresh produce to Samaritan’s Kitchen; often twice a week during the growing season. But he’s quick to shift the praise to those around him.
“Family and friends help when I can’t work in the garden,” he said. “I could never do it without their help.”
Chef Manny says it’s impossible to measure the full impact of Ed’s volunteer work. But anyone can see the blessing it’s been for the Mission.
“I believe that God sees our needs — and produce is one of those needs,” Manny said. “Without it, we’d have to source and buy things, and that’s very expensive.”
At the beginning of each year, Ed checks in with the kitchen to see what kind of produce — and how much — to grow each year.
“I do as much as I can, and I do have an abundance of time,” Ed said. “We try to get what they like and what
Ed is a humble man. He’s not the kind of person who seeks the limelight. But he is a fine example of someone who has — despite his disability — managed to make a tremendous impact on thousands of lives.
“It’s very rewarding to know that you’ve contributed,” he said. “And I’m just so grateful Springs Rescue Mission is here.”
Springs Rescue Mission’s ministry is made possible with the help of generous donors, hardworking volunteers and amazing community members such as Ed and yourself. Subscribe to our blog to learn more about Springs Rescue Mission and the people we serve — people who have seen tough times but are committed to breaking the cycles of homelessness, hunger and addiction in their lives. We see stories of hope and transformation lived out every day, and we’d love to share them with you.
About the Author: Randy Schultz is the president of the public relations firm Schultz Communications and the content editor for HomeGardenandHomestead.com. He also works as a volunteer for Springs Rescue Mission.