Hello from Brian and Shannon!
We hope your 2023 is off to a great start. Ours has kicked off with some great momentum and a lot of excitement — and we’re starting this newsletter to share all that’s going on here with you!
As most of you know, we moved from the Dallas area to our place in Checotah, Oklahoma in June 2021. The last 20 months have been an amazing time of learning and completely enjoying our new place. While we were getting to know the acreage and our community, though, we learned about the poverty and lack of food and nutritional knowledge in our area. Our county, with a population of just over 20,000 people, is the second largest food desert in the entire state. What’s worse is there are approximately 1,900 children who go without enough food every day, even with government benefits. This has been happening literally in our backyard, and the facts just weren’t acceptable to us. The Lord put it on our hearts to change the business model for our ranch to a produce operation, and now it’s official: In January this year we received our non-profit status as Dakota Star Ranch Ministries. We are so grateful to see how God is putting all the pieces together for us to do His work and advance His Kingdom! Here are some highlights:
- We finished the design, layout, and first round of soil prep for expanding the garden operation with two acres with over 50 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Now it’s time to implement. (Watch the progress on upcoming videos on our YouTube channel!)
- We’re also anticipating the award of a USDA grant for two large high tunnels to extend our growing season, which is awesome – Oklahoma weather is nutty!
- A new public entranceway and road through the garden area will be complete in March.
- The Event Barn and Courtyard remodel and beautification will continue throughout the spring, which includes a parking area. This center can accommodate nearly 200 people for private events or fundraisers for the ministry.
In 2022 we were privileged to have roughly 350 visitors to the ranch; primarily RV guests through the Harvest Hosts program. We are on the fast track to reach 1,000 visitors this year! Along with hosting our overnight guests, here are just a few of the events we have on the books so far this year:
- Art Night at the Ranch painting class in February
- Large private event in March
- Concert Under the Stars in April as well as a private event
- Gardening class in May
Proceeds from all these events go back into the ministry as we continue to build out our produce operation to help feed the hungry in our area.
As always, we are completely enjoying our barnyard filled with beautiful, fun, and silly animals – 34 in all! This livestock sanctuary has ministered to visitors in more ways than we thought possible, and we love sharing the animals’ “Cookie Time” with our guests. Our recent addition is a big, gorgeous sheep named Leo. He is a former show sheep given to us by some kind neighbors, and we’re glad he’s here to live out his life with the rest of our furry crew.
We are continuing to build out the vision that God has put into our hearts by moving the ball forward every day. Please pray for us as God continues to reveal places of need in our county and surrounding communities, as well as the strategies to help make a difference. If you’re led to do so, would you consider partnering with us? We will be able to issue receipts as soon as we receive the all-important 501c3 letter from the IRS.
If you haven’t seen the ranch online yet, check us out here:
Finally, if you’re receiving this newsletter by email, it’s because we have your email address. Next month we will use a newsletter broadcasting service, so feel free to sign up for future newsletters if you would like. **If you already receive just too many emails and would like to be removed from this list, no problem at all – we understand, and we’re absolutely not offended.
We appreciate you; and if you haven’t made it out here yet, we would absolutely love for you to visit! Sending love and many thanks.
Brian and Shannon
Dakota Star Ranch Ministries