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A Letter from Chip – What do 25,000 different types of tomatoes have in common?

March 2019

Dear Friends,

As we are entering springtime after a long winter, most gardeners have already started sorting through their favorite seed catalogues looking for the perfect fruits and vegetables to plant in their gardens this season. There are pages and pages of colorful and delicious-looking varieties that all promise a bountiful yield by season’s end. But where does one start? So many options! Take the common tomato, for example. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are 25,000 varieties of tomato plants to choose from! Not an easy decision for the person who is putting in his or her first garden or who is striving for the prized tomato of the season. After all, each type brings its own special flavor, texture, and appeal. In this way tomato plants, or seeds for that matter, are just like people. I was reminded of this analogy when one of our volunteers was helping our team teach a Healthy Eating Lesson at Team Walker in Jersey City.     

As you may recall from our blog in last month’s newsletter, our education volunteer emphasized how seeds come in all shapes and sizes and that what a seed looks like does not determine what kind of plant it will become. And all seeds need the right foundation and “ingredients” to grow into plants that will flower and produce fruit, just like all people need the right “ingredients” to grow up healthy and strong. So true. And even though there are so many unique seeds, they all, very much like people, have common basic needs that must be met in order for them to thrive and be productive. 

At America’s Grow-a-Row the cornerstone of our mission is to provide free healthy produce to those who face food insecurity. But equally important is improving the health of those we serve, especially youth from underserved areas. Our education team invests time not just in teaching these kids how to make healthy eating choices but in doing so in a nurturing and loving way, very much like you would expect in a family, so it’s no surprise that the young students are excited to see our caring staff and look forward to their visits. 

It turned out that on the day of the lesson mentioned above, two students were turning 10. One was excited, but the other was hesitant and said that she was nervous about turning 10 because she didn’t know what kind of responsibility that would bring. Our volunteer suggested that everyone sing happy birthday to the two girls before eating the meal, and they did! It was a great moment, like a family celebrating together around a shared meal. The girl who was nervous said she felt better afterwards, and our team felt privileged to be able to share in the double-digit birthday celebration of these two girls who are part of the America’s Grow-a-Row family.

Thank you for being part of our family and for your support that allows us to expand our work, mission, and family in the classroom, the farm, and beyond.

Have a great day and see you in the fields!

Chip

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