Last year, Wilmington College received stimulus money from the Americorps Vista program to bring in volunteers for a project called "Grow Food Grow Hope". The goal is use local agriculture to help struggling families get food. Yesterday, as part of her series "Wilmington's Homegrown Hope", Emily McCord introduced us to Eric Guindon, who returned to work on the project. Today, Emily follows Eric to the backyard of one family that needs a garden.
"Right Now, There's Nothing"
It's a soggy spring morning when I meet the Humphries family. Josh is a veteran. He's married, and has two kids-A son, Ethan and a daughter, Lauren, who stands next to him, as they look out onto their back yard and imagine their future garden. She asks him how they will protect it from deer, and he assures her that Grow Food Grow Hope will provide the family with a fence.
Josh lost his job in January. He worked in security at a Ford Plant near Cincinnati. He used to make over 60 thousand dollars a year, while his wife, Ashley, raised their kids. Now, he knows he has unemployment money until the summer, but he's worried about how make ends meet until he can find work again.
"The sad nature of it is, with the jobs I apply for, I'm either not qualified, or it doesn't pay near what I was making, so I actually make more off unemployment. I feel bad. I used to talk bad about those guys living on the system, but right now there's nothing," says Humphries.
When he heard about the Grow Food Grow Hope program, Josh sent in an application. He saw this as a not only way to save some money, and feed his family healthy food. It was also a way to take control of his life and regain some self esteem.
"It Reaffirms Why I'm Here"
"With the backyard garden, we want it to be a little more individualized.," says Eric Guindon, who is working for Grow Food Grow Hope, "We've had some awesome seed donations so we have a big bank of seeds, so we'll provide you with a list, so you can really pick and choose, and plan your garden."
Grow Food Grow Hope is providing the Humphries with everything they need to build a raised bed. This produce will help cut nearly $100 a month from the family's grocery bill. And that helps Eric feel like he's making a difference.
"It inspires me. It makes you thankful, and it makes you, I don't know, it reaffirms the reason why you're here," says Guindon.
The Grow Food Grow Hope program is building individual gardens for other families, like the Humphries. But it's also is in charge of a large community garden with 40 plots for other families in need. And it is involved in donating produce to local food pantries. There are 9 Americorps volunteers in total. A project this complex needs someone to get the word out so more people can take advantage of it.
"For me, personally, I started to realize that the job market isn't so hot for journalists out of college," says John Cropper.
John Cropper was a journalism major at Ohio State University and now does PR for Grow Food Grow Hope. He never thought he'd find a career doing what he loved in Wilmington.
"So often, people think of moving back home as a stigma for you failed, you can't make it out somewhere else, so you come back to your comfort zone'. I don't think that's the case at all," says Cropper.
John takes care of things like press releases. He updates the web, and takes photos of Grow Food Grow Hope initiatives, like the Farmers' Market. And running a farming markets full time takes someone like 26 year old Dessie Buchanan.
"When I first started, I didn't think we were going to have a winter market, I thought, no way, not at all. I don't know if it's my age or what, but I thought, oh well, why not? Let's try it," says Buchanan.
We'll follow Dessie tomorrow as she helps connect farmers to their community.