A Letter from Chip – Hope vs. Fear
The other day I was going through our closet and stumbled upon a book that was presented to all of the attendees at a leadership training conference I attended a few years back. Though I’m usually more inclined to read fictional novels rather than books based on history or politics, for whatever reason I took a moment to randomly flip through a few pages of “The Soul of America,” by Jon Meacham. What caught my eye was the introduction heading, “To hope, rather than to fear.” Intrigued, I read a few pages, and what pulled me in a bit deeper was the definition of hope as the author put it: being the expectation of good fortune not only for ourselves, but for the group to which we belong. And his position that fear is about limits whereas hope is about growth struck me.
Those few lines immediately brought me back to early March, a major turning point when our team here at America’s Grow-a-Row, as well as society as a whole, was faced with and forced to make a decision: to fear or to hope. We as an organization had a pivotal choice to make – either retreat, take the safe route, and scale back operations for fear of a looming pandemic and economic crisis, or forge forward and meet head-on the projected and increasing need for healthy fresh produce and expand our efforts. Would our revenue streams dry up? Would we find ourselves without any volunteers to support our program? Would we be able to plant, harvest, and distribute our planned 1.5M pounds of fruits and vegetables to those who need it the most with primarily just our small farm team to do the work?
Fortunately, as we approach the midpoint of our season, clearly “hope” was the right choice back then, and to date any of those past fears about which direction to take are nothing more than a distant memory. But what is helping to drive and fuel this continued sense of hope has been you, our volunteers and supporters. Every day people from all walks of life across the region are uniting on the farm and focusing on making a difference during these times through either their volunteer hours harvesting produce at the farm, making weekly deliveries to the hunger relief agencies we support, or investing in America’s Grow-a-Row with financial contributions.
And because of all of these efforts, now we are feeding a record 60,000 people every day during our 16-week season. Think about that for a moment – 60,000 people receiving a serving of fresh, healthy produce every single day in season. To put that into perspective, if each individual we serve on a daily basis stood in a line, it would be around 11 miles long! Or if you take into consideration social distancing, the line would be 66 miles long.
At this point I’ve only finished one chapter of the book and I can’t guarantee I will move on to the next chapter any time soon, so I’m not sure I will know how it ends. But what I can tell you is that I’m certain that the next few chapters of the America’s Grow-a-Row program will grow not just in regard to pounds harvested and distributed, but more importantly in terms of the number of people positively impacted and touched by our work and our mission. Now that’s something worth hoping for.
Thank you again for all of your support, and see you in the fields!