Up From the Earth is beginning its 10th growing season and is celebrating as gardeners and farmers grow extra garden produce to share through our collection sites and pantries! We made the connections, and this amazing community has stepped up to work together to meet the needs. Our program has evolved to meet the needs of the community through the years while consistently growing in pounds donated.
We began in 2014 with a pilot program with a handful of churches and pantries. Going into 2023’s season, we have 40 local area collection sites and pantries. THANK YOU ALL for stepping up.
In our early years, we received grants to help fund some gardening tools for donation gardens. Throughout the years, we have handed out seeds and seedlings often grown by master gardeners to donate to individuals and donation gardens. Our mission diversified to include educating the public regarding healthy eating of fresh vegetables and fruits, and how to grow some vegetables in containers to have some “at home.” We continue to educate the community on the needs in our neighborhood to increase food security and develop an awareness of what each of us can do to help. More and more individuals come forward to donate each year.
We have partnered and collaborated with an array of organizations working together to increase food security in our community! This is a generous place to live!
In 2018 we introduced our garden mascot Zucchini Guy to help us get our message out. In 2018, with the help of a marketing professor and students at Morningside University, our webpage was upgraded, and our logo was reinvented. Currently, in 2023, we have added a QR code on the website and posters around town. Take a picture of that QR code,, and you will be taken directly to our website, the list of collection sites and pantries, the days they are open, and how to contact them. You may contact us to donate or supplement what you need to feed your family. Our Facebook page has a lot of traffic thanks largely to the behind-the-scenes work of Zucchini Guy (aka Mark Raymond). Annual Certificates of Appreciation and frequent “Tip of the Trowel” on Facebook help us recognize the wonderful people sharing in our vision.
By Randy Burnight, Mark Raymond, and Jenny Jorgensen, ISU Woodbury County Extension and Outreach Master Gardeners and Steering Team Committee members for Up From the Earth.