Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

Candy and Daniel Long, and their 4-year-old daughter Violet, moved to Danville from central Illinois in 2016. They made the big move with a goal in mind: a better, more self-sufficient life for their family.

Daniel reached out to someone in Danville who was offering up a farming arrangement that aligned with the family’s priorities. There was a house they could live in and 200 acres of land they could work. “We came here to live the farming dream,” Daniel said.

But it turned out the offer wasn’t quite as advertised, so they picked up and moved to another piece of Danville-area land owned by a retired farmer. Daniel now works for the farmer caring for the land and cattle, and is learning from his wealth of farming experience.

Candy’s focus on the farm is planting a variety of crops to feed their family and – hopefully – add to their income. They travel to area farmer’s markets and try to set up a stall whenever they can, but they say there’s not as large a customer base as they really need – yet. The cost of market booth space and fuel to travel is a challenge too. They’re still only making what Candy calls “pocket change” from those efforts. “It’s not enough to do things like pay our power bill,” Candy says. “How are we supposed to buy food when our power bill is the main concern in our life?”

That’s where FASWVA partner program God’s Storehouse comes in. God’s Storehouse receives much of the food it distributes from its partnership with FASWVA, including senior meal boxes and food from local retail pickup arrangements.

“We live paycheck to paycheck like most people do,” said Daniel, “We get SNAP, but we have the week that we come here balanced with when our SNAP runs out, since that’s not enough to cover everything each month. It’s hard to make ends meet. God’s Storehouse is that last step that gets us through the month.”

As they work to develop a sustainable lifestyle for themselves, Candy and Daniel are also dedicated to helping build local food culture in Danville. They both participate in a local food steering committee and attend a variety of meetings and groups. They’re committed to their work and committed to Danville. Daniel notes that much of the news coverage and sentiment about Danville is negative, highlighting crime, unemployment and other issues. But they’re not ready to give up on their adopted hometown, even if life is difficult.

“We’re trying to build the community at the same time we’re trying to build ourselves,” said Daniel, “and God’s Storehouse is a stepping stone that allows us to make that work.”