Minister Aaron Hopkins
“In the community in which we live, there are challenges and barriers that exist. You need to identify what the barriers are and how you can move past those barriers that others have put in place.”
For the last three decades, Aaron Hopkins has lived on the South Side with his wife of 39 years, Antoinette. He is an area commissioner and civic president of South Side Community Action Network, and a minister at the Family Missionary Baptist Church. As a minister, his focus is on community outreach and “lifting the voices of the marginalized African American community”, as well as bringing resources to those who need it. One of the most needed resources on the South Side is fresh fruits and vegetables. Driven by his mother’s love of gardening, Minister Hopkins was able to use his background in construction to create and build the South Side Family Farms in an effort to replenish the food desert that exists on the South Side.
Since founding the farm in 2014, Minister Hopkins has reached hundreds of families in the South Side community. He likes to work with the younger generation in order to inspire positive goals and give them new experiences— such as using a drill or reading a tape measure— that they might have never done without access to the community garden. His passion is to provide education about the science of agriculture, aquaponics, and engineering so that people in his community may feel empowered to start a garden in their own backyard. Minister Hopkins hopes to “pass the torch” to his community so that they may experience the rewarding feeling of growing their own fruits and vegetables, and he encourages his neighbors to know their options so that they are not dependent on outside resources. Beyond the farm, Minister Hopkins hopes to give the children of the South Side a new avenue for success by providing these opportunities to learn responsibility, commitment, and passion about a project that they get to help build. The South Side Family Farm also provides a space for people to socialize and connect with their own neighbors while making a positive contribution to the community.
Minister Hopkins has found that land access for farming is a big challenge, especially for communities of color. Minister Hopkins’ recently established Seedlings of Change Plants for Progress, LLC with the goal of growing South Side Family Farms to include a nursery that would allow them to market to the South Side community. South Side Family Farms recently gained land in Johnstown, OH which will be used to start this new project. Minister Hopkins also has goals to venture into an indoor location where he can incorporate hydroponics and vertical gardens into his urban farming network.