The other day, I read through a pamphlet that Kathy emailed me about the group Ashe Outreach and their program Out Grow Hunger. I really like the set up of this organization and what they aim to do. The program is very specific to and geared toward the rural community of Ashe County. Instead of throwing out a range of devastating statistics about how many people do not have enough food and asking people to donate, the program both provides practical and relevant means by which people can contribute to the cause and demonstrates how individuals can participate in different ways to make a difference.
This program is very focused on fighting hunger with what we already have. It tells what is possible if everyone is willing to contribute a small amount, suggesting that each large producer give a percentage of their harvest, that gardeners grow an extra row for donation purposes, and that deer hunters, cattlemen, and dairy farmers share some of their products as well. Another suggestion the pamphlet makes is that people who are in need of food be given the gift of learning how to grow their own garden. Not only would they be absolved of hunger, but they would also learn how to continually sustain themselves and not need to rely (at least not as much) on food pantries, hunger programs, etc. It is made evident by this organization that fighting hunger is a community wide responsibility and that by coming together in collaboration and generosity with one another, food insecurity could become a relic of the past.
In addition to suggestions of how to participate in this program centered on feeding and teaching those in need of food, the pamphlet tells how exactly the food will be used – either as direct donations to a food pantry, freshly prepared meals either for delivery or for community gatherings, or cooked into soup or stew and frozen for ready distribution. It also provides a short explanation of why canned foods are not the most ideal means of donation.
The brochure ends by stating that we have “seeds, soil, sun, and water-” everything we need to begin a journey to end hunger. It also states that local and fresh food is the best option possible for anyone to eat. The focus is not on simply satiating peoples’ hunger but on feeding people with sustainable foods that are nutritious and will help them to thrive and maybe even inspire them to grow for themselves.
Reading about this organization has given me great hope for what our garden at the Blackburn House can eventually become. We have land, funds, gardening knowledge, and people who are willing to help and support what we are doing. All we need is people who could use some fresh produce. I love the idea of a community coming together to sustain itself and care for those who are its members. The resources are there. The need is there. We just need a way to connect the two, and hopefully that is what will come out of our venture. In the words of Wendell Berry, “What we need is here.”
What We Need Is Here
Geese appear high over us,
Pass, and the sky closes.
Abandon, as in love or sleep,
Holds them to their way,
Clear in the ancient faith:
What we need is here.
And we pray, not for new earth or heaven,
But to be quiet in heart,
And in eye, clear.
What we need is here.