80: The Garden

80: The Garden

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering & Giving Back

The Garden

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.

~Mirabel Osler

A couple of years ago, my partner Paul and I were remodeling our kitchen. We had a garden full of produce that we weren’t going to be able to use while our kitchen was under construction. I started contacting food pantries where we could donate our fresh vegetables. Surprisingly, the nearest food pantry was several blocks away at our neighborhood elementary school.

We were put in touch with Kelly, the coordinator of the school’s BackPack Program. She told us about the twenty-four families at the school who were struggling. Hunger was an issue for them. The children from those families didn’t always know where their next meal was coming from. School holidays, summer vacations and weekends were huge problems for these students; it meant these kids might not eat. This was mind-blowing to me. I thought hunger was an issue in developing countries, not in the U.S., and especially not in our neighborhood!

That season, we grew and donated more than seven hundred pounds of fresh produce for the pantry. We met with several organizations in town that help with hunger issues and began to realize how widespread this problem really is.

Paul and I loved that the produce from our garden was not going to waste. The next year, we dedicated our entire garden to grow food for the pantry. My goal was 1,000 pounds that year. As the season progressed, the weather was better suited for lettuces and greens, not the heavier squashes, tomatoes and pumpkins! I began to worry that we wouldn’t meet our goal. As it turned out, we were able to donate 1,001 pounds!

We learned a lot about helping our community, a lot about hunger and a lot about the needs of our neighbors. We learned to follow your passion when helping… find what you love and use that to help others. Through our love of gardening, we helped others get involved with planting a row and donating a portion of produce from their own gardens. If your passion is writing, write letters to representatives; if your passion is fundraising, raise money; if your passion is education, teach… Find your passion and use that to help your neighbor.

~John Farnam

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