Five years ago, Bryant and Lynelle Martin relocated to State College and opened Sowers Harvest Cafe with one transcending vision — to use their extroversion and love for conversation to serve the community.
Bearing the ongoing pandemic, the Sowers Harvest founders have adapted numerous different initiatives to remain open and honor this same vision.
It is now taking new measures to serve customers all over State College through three mediums: curbside pickup, takeout (while honoring social distancing), and free delivery.
Fueled by the staff’s interest in building relationships and meeting people from around the world, conversation is one of the most important aspects of Sowers Harvest Cafe’s mission, according to Bryant.
Due to this, Sowers Harvest has begun a new initiative to inspire conversations with customers — both local customers and those who returned home due to the pandemic.
The mission, “Operation Conversations”, entails Sowers Harvest using technology to communicate with people in the community who may feel lonely or in need of conversation.
Detailed on the website, the conversations last for 10 minutes between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on days that the cafe is open.
Sowers Harvest started the initiative with four main goals: to share ways to help during the crisis, for international citizens to practice English, to inspire prayers from Sowers team members, and to learn more about people within the State College community.
Moreover, Sowers Harvest said it misses guests and wants further communication with the community during the pandemic.
“Our mission has been and continues to be ‘creating a peace-filled space to cultivate conversations that change the world,’” a message on the Sowers website reads. “So out of that discussion was born Operation Conversations.”
With the ongoing pandemic affecting the community, the founders and team members of Sowers Harvest have offered to pray for customers in need during this time.
Coupled with Sowers Harvest's passion for conversation is a faith-based journey that inspired the mission behind the cafe. The faith of the team behind Sowers Harvest is what drives its mission to provide an atmosphere of love and connection, according to Bryant.
“Jesus was a man who loved people. He loved reaching out to people of all ethnicities and all demographics of society – and many times, it included a table with food,” Bryant Martin said. “His first miracle was turning water into wine, and it was the best wine. Our transcending vision is to present Jesus as who he is... somebody that would show dignity to everyone.”
Although the cafe experienced a “roaring year” in sales, staying open through the pandemic presents a challenge, according to the Bryant.
In addition to the cafe’s initiatives, however, the local community and cafe employees have made consistent efforts to aid the cafe throughout the difficulties surrounding the pandemic.
Included in these “honorable” acts are community members buying gift certificates and ordering food from the cafe daily. Team members have also volunteered to have reduced hours or reduced pay to maintain the sustainability of the cafe.
Bryant said Sowers Harvest Cafe is blessed and humbled by the teamwork exemplified by the cafe and community during this time.
Inspired by this teamwork, Sowers Harvest Cafe is continuing to persevere through the pandemic to serve the community in any way possible.
“We all need some comfort in our misery. Whether it’s conversation, which is food for the soul… or some really good comfort food,” Bryant said. “Our goal has been to serve the State College community from the beginning, so we’re committed to sticking it out. Still being open, and still being there to serve.”
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE
Their trips were planned for months, and the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus didn’…