A Letter from Chip – Something to smile about
Here’s something to smile about. According to a Forbes article titled “The Untapped Power of Smiling,” a single smile stimulates our brains in a way that gives us the same level of mood-boosting pleasure as up to 2,000 chocolate bars! And according to the article, more than 30% of adults smile more than 20 times a day and less than 14% of us smile less than 5 times a day, while children smile as many as 400 times a day! I guess adults could learn a thing or two from kids! And the best part is that smiles are considered to be contagious – being smiled at causes us to smile.
So why am I bringing up the power of a smile? Well, let’s go back to a few weeks ago when I had just gotten back from vacation. The good news is that I was able to get away and enjoy some family time, but the not-so-good news is that my vacation was during one of our Grow-a-Row Kids Farm Days weeks, when kids from underserved areas come to learn about farming and healthy eating and to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables for their own families and for other communities in need. I like to make a point of participating in one or two of these Kids Farm Days events each year, but when I came back to the office this year I had to focus on responding to numerous emails and phone messages and getting ready for upcoming meetings. This is all part of going away of course, and most of us expect that busy period after we leave for a few days. However, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to get out into the fields with the kids this year, and there were only a few days left to do so. So one day during the busyness of my return to the office, I noticed that outside our office window a group of children was just about to start harvesting string beans. I figured this would be a great opportunity to take a quick break from my laptop, so I grabbed my boots and out into the field I went. It happens that my daughter was helping one of the younger children, a boy in probably 3rd grade or so. He wasn’t with any of the other children and seemed to feel more comfortable with my daughter by his side, so I decided to join them to pick a few beans for him and his family. He was so incredibly thankful every time I dropped a few beans into his paper bag to take home. Each time we found more beans, he became more excited! With a smile that seemed bigger than the farm itself, he asked question after question about how the plants grew, which bugs were making holes in the leaves, whether the plants would be okay with holes in them, how long the plants live…and so on and so on.
After about 20 minutes or so, he and the other children were called to line up to make their way back to the front of the barn and then eventually board the bus for the return trip home. As he walked away, he stopped in his tracks, turned around and ran back to me to shake my hand and thank me, and then ran back to his place in line. As he and the other kids walked down the row I saw him turn around to see if I was still looking. When he glanced over, I saw his big smile as he enthusiastically waved at me…not just once, but many, many times! As he and the other children made their way down the driveway, I could see him trying to look over and around the older kids to see if I was still watching. Each time he looked over I waved and then he smiled, and this went on until he walked around the barn and I could no longer see him. Right then I was reminded once again why we are doing what we do here at America’s Grow-a-Row. When we say it’s not just about the pounds but it’s about the people, we really mean it. Knowing that one little boy who lives in a low-income area without access to fresh fruits and vegetables had a great experience at the farm and was able to take home dinner for his family certainly brought a smile to my face. And weeks later this brief encounter sticks in my mind…and still makes me smile. Thank you for your support that not only helps us serve up fresh produce to those who need it the most but also helps provide countless smiles that are sweeter than any amount of chocolate bars!
See you in the fields!
President & Founder