A Letter from Chip – Small Groups = Big Impact
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” You might have heard this quote before from Margaret Mead, the popular anthropologist, author, and speaker from the 1960s and 70s. Though her message is over 50 years old, it is timeless and the meaning and sentiment still ring true today. As we approach our 20th growing season here at America’s Grow-a-Row (AGAR), I often think about how AGAR got off the ground all those years ago through the efforts of “small groups” of people who year after year kept coming out to the farm to volunteer, bringing and introducing new families and friends and then eventually teams of co-workers, schools, and community groups to support our work of providing not only fresh produce but hope to those faced with food insecurity, hunger, and more. And these efforts today help us provide 2 million pounds of healthy food to those in need each year.
Over the past two decades, I’ve often been reminded of AGAR’s impact when volunteers from the past, many from those very early small groups made up of people young and old, reach out to me expressing gratitude for the positive impact AGAR has made on their lives. Just the other day, completely out of the blue, a woman who recently graduated from college and who is pursuing her career goals wrote to me about a particular AGAR experience that has been permanently etched upon her heart. Her thoughts and the touching photo she shared reflect the very essence of what AGAR is about and what we are trying to accomplish…positively impacting the lives of those we serve AND those who serve along with us, side by side, each and every day.
Though I could have tried to summarize Taylor Rogers’ note, I surely would not have done it justice. Taylor writes, “I have many fond memories of volunteering at Grow-a-Row as a child/young teen, and I have a very specific memory that I believe really shaped who I am today. Around 7th/8th grade, a group of peers and myself volunteered for a school group summer camp day. When the students arrived, the pure bliss and amazement on their faces were awe-inspiring for me. I grew up in the area and until then never really put into perspective the luxury and blessing it is to just pick and eat a green bean directly from the stalk. Throughout the day a particular student and I began to bond together. One of her peers said something mean to her and she ran up to me and hugged me. We then sat and started eating those green beans while giggling to each other. This entire experience truly shaped my love for education, helping create a better world for someone else, and gardening/farming. All of this said, I want to thank you. Grow-a-Row is truly in the essence of my core personality.”
Unbeknownst to Taylor, that day on the farm 10+ years ago when she helped us host that small group of children became the pilot that was the beginning of our Grow-a-Row Kids Farm Days program. To date this program has welcomed well over 5,000 children from underserved areas whose families are dealing with the struggles of poverty. AGAR and Taylor’s compassionate actions might not have changed the world that hot summer day, but she might have changed that little girl’s world, even if just for a moment in time.
Thank you to each and every one of you who have volunteered and invested in our work and mission over the years. You have played a critical role in AGAR’s growth and the impact that we made then and make today. And thank you for changing the world…one child and one pound at a time.
See you in the fields!
President and Founder