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While we’re putting our gardens to bed this Fall, and Spring-dreaming surrounded by snow, we can start to plan for a better future. Currently, in the US 6.5 million children live in food-insecure homes, where they were unsure where their next meal was coming from. (Source: USDA) On the other hand, 42 million households are growing vegetable gardens. (Source: Garden.org)
If only a fraction of the households in the US planted an extra row of vegetables, or donated their excess produce, we could solve the problem of food insecurity in the US.
As many of you know, when I first started gardening, I was dumbfounded. The plants WANTED to grow. With very little help from me, the handful of tomato plants I plopped in the ground grew to be taller than I am, and produced so much fruit, it fell to the ground and rotted. The next year? We had volunteers shoot up before we even worked the soil.
(Cue mind-blown graphic).
Plants WANTED to grow. They WANTED to produce food. They WANTED to come back next year and do it all over again. All humans had to do was provide healthy soil, and just enough water, and they would do the rest. So why are we paying for food, when it can literally be free? Why are people going hungry in the US when food SHOULD be free?
It was a further dumbfounding moment when my step-mom, who works with special ed kids, told me how many children she worked with who were from homes that were food insecure. In my own hometown! Call me naive, but I had no idea.
Now, as a mother, I have a very hard time swallowing the fact that my fat and happy toddler may be going to school next to a kid who goes to bed hungry. I’m not going to lie, I’m tearing up as I write this. There is NO reason a child should ever be hungry.
I also recent read (and highly recommend) a book called The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. Lynne has worked with Feed the Hungry for decades and has some poignant insights into the cause of food scarcity in the world today that is best left to her words, not mine.
So while you’re planning your Spring garden, plan to plant an extra row. Go to seed swaps, or ask for seeds for Christmas, or do your own fundraising. Call your local food banks and churches to see who runs a program that will accept fresh fruit and produce and distribute it to the hungry. Go the extra mile and build a community garden. Eventbrite has an awesome post with 100 different fundraising ideas to get your started!
It doesn’t take a lot of extra work to weed and water and extra row, and it could be the difference between an empty belly, and a happy belly full of food.