Cross-Pollenization Helps the Food Shelf

You say tom-ah-to, I say tom-A-to. And we say wonderful! And thank you! There are many precursors to spring, even in the darkest days of winter. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Horticultural Program at Woodstock Union High School. The number of courses offered, and the multiple greenhouses just across the way from the classroom make it possible for students to take any number of interesting hands on courses from teacher Mr. John Hiers.

While yet another brutal cold March snowstorm was bearing down on Woodstock, student Jessie Tensen poked tiny heirloom variety tomato seeds into germinating mix in little starter cells. They were then left to bask and grow in the deliciously warm and humid new green house. Like a mother hen fussing over new chicks Jessie tended the 75 little sprouts, watering, feeding, and transplanting just when they needed it. Lots of able assistance came from other classmates as well as from staff Laurel Tobiason and Jill Leavitt.

All these plants are being grown for our guests at the Food Shelf! In January of 2013 Food Shelf board member, Bev Regan had an idea, and after an exchange with Mr. Hiers, the idea grew into the beginning of a fruitful new collaboration between the Food Shelf and the WUHS Horticultural program. Last week Bev and Diana Brown collected two carloads of very healthy tomato plants, grown by the school especially for our guests to plant at home. Each sturdy plant, now in a quart-sized pots, shows the promise of a harvest of their very own tomatoes.

During the week of May 19 any food shelf visitor who wanted to carefully placed a tomato plant in the back of their car. Jessie’s team has provided instruction sheets as to all the necessary care. Somewhere out there over the summer there will be 75 Vermont families watching for the first buds, the first tiny hard green globes, and then beautiful luscious red orbs of summer goodness. Hopefully, we will share photos come July and August. We will have to remind folks to take pictures first before eating them all!

This program is but a small example of the wonderful balance created by our “community garden of ideas” — which in turn become projects, which become creative and very satisfying ways to provide food for those in need. Our “garden of ideas” grows best when showered with caring, tended faithfully, cultivated with vigor and consistence. Working together, person to person, group to group, a kind of cross-pollenization happens, making way for more abundant and varied contributions. And just as in a real garden with plants in the soil, with your help and ideas, the food shelf can help more folks put good food on the supper table.


This article by Diana Brown first appeared in the Vermont Standard.

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Food Wishlist
  • pasta
  • spaghetti sauce
  • hot and cold cereal
  • canned tuna
  • canned soups and stews (preferable low sodium)
  • canned fruit and vegetables (preferably low sugar and low salt)
  • peanut butter
  • coffee
  • baked beans
  • boxed macaroni & cheese