Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Homegrown – Get ready to garden!


Want to grow veggies for your family at home? Or sell veggies at the farmers market? Check out Sprouting Hope's Homegrown program! Applications are due January 20.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

We're hiring!

Sprouting Hope is looking for a new Program Coordinator. Our current coordinator is heading off on a new adventure so we're looking for a highly motivated, passionate person who gets things done to step into this role and help Sprouting Hope continue to feed our community.

Take a look at the job description. If you're seeking a new challenge and think you'd be a good fit, submit your resume and cover letter ASAP! The position will be open until filled but we're eager to find the right person and will beginning reviewing applications July 8.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Feeding the Community and My Soul Through Meaningful Work

By Shauna Gillespie

I became involved with Sprouting Hope through a program at Emory & Henry College called Community Engagement Fellows. The goal of the program is to provide students interested in the nonprofit field with some real hands-on experience while assisting organizations that do good work for the community. I had my pick of 26 different positions at nonprofits throughout the area. As soon as I read Sprouting Hope’s mission statement, I knew where I wanted to work.

My time at Sprouting Hope has been very beneficial in many different ways, especially gaining a variety of experience. I have had the chance to attend board meetings, assist with grant writing, work on volunteer programs, organize a fundraising event, work in the garden, and I was even able to attend the Grow Appalachia Conference. I have no doubt that all of these things will be very useful to me in the future regardless of where my career leads me.

There are many ways I could describe my experience: beneficial, productive, educational, fun, and interesting; however, the one word that I believe really sums it up is fulfilling. Through meeting and spending time with many of our garden participants and handing out produce at the food pantry, I gained a better understanding of the impact Sprouting Hope makes on so many people’s lives. Sprouting Hope is more than a place to grow and share healthy produce. It’s a place to grow meaningful relationships and share beautiful memories. When I tell people I want to work with nonprofits when I graduate, they automatically ask how much that pays, usually implying it’s not going to be a lot. For a while I didn’t really have a response to that. Since my experience with Sprouting Hope, my answer is always the same, “I don’t know how much money I’ll make, but it surely pays the soul!”

Home Is Where the Garden Grows

By Robert Kell

In college when folks would ask me about where I grew up I would start with brown beans, pickled beets, and cornbread. I would detail my grandparents’ garden and the ways in which they were skilled at preserving food. I felt that beyond the statistics of what people knew of Appalachia, food was the heritage of my home. Like many other places around the world, food here is cultural, food is life, food is the political and social tool that forms the backbone of those statistics.

My grandparents had a 30ft by 20ft brown patch of dirt in their yard they would transform into a beautiful garden. Folks driving down the road would stop and compliment them on their beans and cabbage. I remember spending hours picking various veggies and watching my grandmother pickle, can, and cook them. Over time though, my grandparents grew older and canned less and less and eventually stopped putting out a garden altogether. No one was there to take over. None of my siblings or parents had the time to grow food. In fact, outside of my grandparents’ house, I don’t remember eating fresh food. I have no memories of watching my mother or father cook fresh vegetables. Sure, we ate canned green beans and peas bought at the grocery store or frozen carrots and broccoli, but nothing picked and served that day. Here we are, two generations removed, and totally dependent on Wal Mart and Food City for our food.

I recently moved back to Marion and stumbled on Sprouting Hope. I couldn’t believe it! Marion had its own community garden and anyone and everyone was welcomed to come out and learn about growing food and better yet, could take home fresh food. On my second visit I brought my youngest siblings with me. They are 9 and 10. As far as I know, neither of them had ever worked in a garden before. Neither of them had ever pruned a tomato, pulled weeds, or picked and ate something right out of the ground. I watched them eat kale for the first time. I watched as their curiosity begin to piece together the importance of food in their lives and the necessity to have fresh food available for their health. Later, I listen to them tell my grandmother about the greens they had picked and their eagerness to try them.

I’m hopeful that over the coming summer months they'll form memories of growing food and become interested in cutting back on Mountain Dew and processed food, but mostly, I hope they form a deep connection with the place they call home and realize that the people they volunteer with, the folks who benefit from the food pantries and the free clinic, and their own family members have the right to different health statistics. The hope that’s really sprouting in Southwest Virginia is a return to a local legacy of food sovereignty and community interdependence. These mountains have no shortage of hard working folks and Sprouting Hope is starting to give them back their dignity and their food. I think it’s important to note that Central Appalachia has some of the worst health disparities in the country. The food we eat has a role to play, but so does living in poverty. The daily stresses that come with deciding which bill to pay and which utility to get cut off are hard. Couple this with diabetes, heart disease, and depression and you get the daily reality of so many in these mountains. I truly see Sprouting Hope as a mechanism of empowerment that can change this. It’s not easy and it’s not changing over night, but who knows the seed we can plant in a 9 or 10 year-old that could grow into a better future for all of us.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Morning in the Garden

Come see how the garden has grown! Photo taken in Spring 2013,
before perennials & hoop houses were added. 

Garden Day! This TUESDAY morning, March 22, 10am - noon.

Spring is coming! This weekend will be cold and rainy but Tuesday should be the start of a few nicer days. Join us from 10am to noon for a morning in the garden to help with early spring planting and harvesting food for Tuesday's food pantry.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

An easy way to support Sprouting Hope!

Calling all Amazon shoppers! If you're looking for a way to support us during the cold season, you should know that when you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Sprouting Hope, Inc.

Bookmark the link and support us every time you shop!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Connecting the Dots: Broad Community Based Approach to Strengthening Our Food System

Nearly 100 organizations from the public, private, and non-profit sectors gathered today to take steps in building capacity throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia as a follow up to our initial meeting in April. The holistic approach to making positive change in our food system started with a presentation by Dr. Randy Wykoff on the health, social, and economic challenges of our region and how food interconnects to these issues. Central Appalachia suffers disproportionately from lower life expectancy and other basic quality of life and health indicators compared to the rest of the country. Historically the first response is to increase medical care for the region but we are learning that a lack of medical care is not the biggest problem. According to Dr. Wykoff’s research, it is social and behavioral influences.

This framed our conversation around how we can collaborate to reverse these trends through our food system. The discussion focused on the following five areas:
1. Food Access: Improving access to healthy, fresh, and local food options for all members of our community. Involved groups: community gardens, food banks, food pantries, growers, public health, transportation, NGOs, Department of Human Services, schools
2. Food Production, Marketing, and Distribution: Connecting growers to local and regional markets for their products. Involved groups: growers, buyers of food, agricultural professionals, NGOs, government entities
3. Food and Health Systems: Promoting and increasing access to locally grown, healthy food to healthcare recipients. Involved groups: hospital foundations, public health, clinics, nursing homes, retirement communities, accountable care organizations
4. Policy and Economic Development: Creating and advocating for better policies to support our regional food system and economy. Involved groups: economic development boards, chamber of commerce, state and federal entities, politicians and/or staff, schools and other organizations with food regulations to promote locally-grown food
5. Workforce Development and Education: Creating opportunities and training for an entrepreneurship-minded food and agriculture workforce. Involved groups: high schools, vocational, higher education, workforce investment boards, economic development, chambers of commerce, NGOs who are training young people, reentry programs
Each of these five areas developed into working groups to lead the effort within the corresponding sectors while connecting the work to the larger picture through the many intersections between theses areas of focus.
Sprouting Hope participated primarily in the Food Access and Food Production, Marketing and Distribution working groups. While the groups involved a great diversity of participants at all levels from grassroots to institutional, common themes emerged with an understanding that our approach must be community based and appropriate on the local level. Three major next steps for our working groups are increased communication and collaboration among stakeholders, training and educational programs, and separate meetings among the working groups along with a large gathering before May.

Antoinette Goodrich, Farmer at Laughing Water Farm, felt today’s event was also a “great opportunity to network with others.” The purpose of these events are primarily to build capacity and forge new connections. While the nuts and bolts of our work together is still in development, we do know that if we are going to creating lasting positive change in our food system, we must work together.