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North Carolina pastor Richard Joyner started a network of gardens in his community to grow healthy food for church members and locals.

A member of a North Carolina Baptist church is now able to reduce his daily intake of medication thanks to a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables provided by his pastor.

Pastor Richard Joyner, 62, grows the crops on church property, and at other locations, to provide healthy foods for his community. He started the practice at Conetoe Chapel Missionary after presiding over many funerals for members who died from diseases related to poor nutrition.

“We had at least 20 funerals per year, and a lot of the deaths were health-related — poor diets, no exercise,” said Joyner to “It just started to feel unconscionable that you would see someone 100 pounds overweight on Sunday and not say anything about it. Then they’d die of a heart attack.”

After taking a health assessment of his church, Joyner discovered that 65 percent of the congregants were obese, and the same percentage was unemployed. At this point he knew something had to be done to combat the crisis.

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