Up from the Earth applauds our community efforts, on many levels, to increase local food security. This trilogy of personal experiences and perspectives, this one on planting, growing, and sharing, is one of those levels.
Growing for a Purpose
My childhood years were spent with my parents and five siblings on a small farm in Northeast Nebraska. My dad farmed, and my mom was a homemaker. I would have to say that almost all our fruits and vegetables came from the large garden that my mom had planted. I spent a lot of time helping her plant, weed, and harvest vegetables. There were times later, growing up, that were financially hard for my mom, who was widowed and raising her family. Having to keep food on the table was sometimes a challenge but having a garden, even a small one, helped with the cost of food.
We met up with some of the Up from the Earth members at the Siouxland Garden Show a few years ago. We have since become proud supporters of their mission to overcome the food shortages in our communities. It was something in which we felt we wanted to become involved.
Gardening is my favorite pastime, and I give credit to my mom for instilling that sense of value in me. My husband, Aaron, and I have been blessed to have the space and ability to grow fruit trees and a large garden. I love to share my fruits of labor with family, friends, and those who need food to put on their tables. Each year I grow at least one extra row to donate to “Up from the Earth,” who in turn help move the produce to pantries in the Siouxland community.
Submitted by: Cindy and Aaron Foix
“Just in Case” Gardeners
Most folks who enjoy gardening are just in case gardeners. I’ll plant a couple extra just in case the rabbits eat some, the weather doesn’t cooperate, and the list goes on. Come summer and fall, another dilemma. After eating, filling our freezer and pantry with garden goodies, and sharing with friends, often we still had more than needed so the compost pile usually became the lucky recipient.
In 2015, we had an abundance of apples. A friend in Sioux City gave us Up from the Earth’s contact number, sharing that they might be interested in harvesting for local food pantries. It was a win-win situation. We had apples; UFTE brought a crew out to harvest. They were also willing to take our excess vegetables. We were thrilled. The produce was not being wasted and was going to a good cause! They shared with us UFTE’s goals. We realized we had the room; we were just in case gardeners, and WE COULD HELP!
Harvesting is a big part of gardening. Having UFTE and their “happy harvesters” (Harvest Heroes) share that responsibility of harvesting and then sharing with food pantries is AWESOME! We owe them a big Thank you for their Inspiration, Time, and Energy!
We have been very blessed and enjoy sharing the blessings. Every winter, we plan our garden and think about how we can contribute more for Siouxland pantries. We love it! We encourage any gardeners to get involved!
Submitted by: Barb and Dennis Anfinson
Understanding the Need then Growing Young Gardeners
The window rolled down a second time and the lady inside leaned out to say, “Again, I cannot thank you enough for this food. We have so little to eat and it is hard to keep everyone fed. I do not have many options.” She smiled and drove away as I said, “you are welcome.” In that moment, I again realized the importance of sharing food with others as much as possible because for me, food has always been easily accessible. Over the years in my work with families, I have seen and heard stories of “how or where can I get some food for my family.” Many of those families were working, but there was never enough to meet all the monthly expenses.
Having engaged in some poverty simulation activities, in which participants are asked to simulate the everyday experiences of a family struggling financially, I became more aware of how monthly expenses impact budgeting and because of this, families often must make hard choices. When resources are available to help individuals get back on their feet or stay on their feet, everyone wins, givers as they assist and the family as they gain access to food.
With some young children in a garden group, we, this year, are looking to work on gardening with the intent of providing food to others, especially potatoes. The young children will plant, weed, water, care for, and harvest the potatoes (and maybe other items), then provide them to food pantries, where they can be used by families. I would hope that each and every day, or whenever possible, we all strive to share the benefits we have with others and not expect recognition, for the true reward comes in sharing to support others and knowing that someone is getting a good meal because of our efforts.
Submitted by: Sally and Dan Hartley
These articles share the experiences and perspectives of the many from our community who “grow, plant, and share” their produce to help increase food security in the Siouxland area. In the summer issue we will focus on those who give their time and efforts in another way: the food pantry volunteers.