Anahata Food Project Spring 2013

By Marcia Miller

Last week, the coordinators of the Anahata Food Project had our first meeting. We are excited to order seeds and get together for the first big work party of the season (Saturday, March 30 from noon to 2).  We planned what we would grow and which extra projects to do this year.

Right after that meeting I was talking to a friend who had helped us a couple of years ago and she asked if we were still involved. I felt amazed and grateful that so many of us have been working together since the beginning of the garden. And that new people join us each year to add meaning and service to their already busy lives.

Then my friend imagined the huge impact we have had on the food pantries we serve.  It is true that we have grown and delivered nearly 7 tons of organic produce since we started this project.  And while 14,000 pounds of produce IS a lot, I’m not really sure of the impact.  We grow and offer the food freely. In one pantry they divide up whatever food we bring so that most families get something fresh—sometimes only a quart of food per family, though at the height of the season it can be much more. And just because someone takes the food home does not mean it gets eaten.  Turns out there are lots of hurdles to getting fresh vegetables into the bellies of low income families. Some don’t have gas or electricity to cook with. Others don’t have pots and pans or don’t know how to cook vegetables so that they are nutritious and delicious.  Some families in need can’t even get to the food pantry for lack of transportation.

Still, there are many reasons that keep me inspired in what we are doing.

  1. It is so good for us!  Getting outside, in the fresh air, doing the physical labor with friends (or soon to be friends) is pure joy.  We can see the vast width of the sky and the weather patterns moving across it.  We occasionally visited by Kevin’s chickens and can see his cows from the garden.  There is a pond nearby that hosts migrating birds in the spring and fall and is home to many families of birds, frogs and fish during the summer.  We are surrounded by the sounds of nature which act like a healing balm to my soul.
  2. It’s good for the people who are using the food pantries once they get the food!  People who may not have access to good quality produce get some at least occasionally.
  3. The sense of working on behalf of others is a powerful tonic for the heart.  This is where the word Anahata comes from; it is the Sanskrit word for heart center.  It’s healthy for the volunteers beyond the obvious benefits of physical exercise.  The caring that we experience toward others reminds us that they are really not “the other”—they are us.  We value fresh, live, organic food so we do what we can to ensure everyone can have it.
  4. The magic of mattering.  I like to think that the people in the pantry wonder about us the way we wonder about them.  Who are these people spending so much time in the dirt working so hard, going far out of their way to bring some carrots and a bag of greens to them?  I hope they feel a sense that they matter to us even when we haven’t met.  For me this is part of the mystery of living this life together—we are connected—sometimes we can see it and feel it personally, other times we see the evidence before us—like a bag of greens.

Volunteer Details:  if you would like to work with us regularly or even occasionally please join us on Saturday, March 30, from noon to 2:00p for our first work session—a “Come to the Garden Party,” as volunteer Ann Janiak is calling it.  After that our main work day will be Sunday—we’ll meet earlier in the day as the temperature rises. Later in the season we’ll add a weekday morning session (either Tuesday or Wednesday) and a Thursday evening session as well. If you would like to volunteer,  send me an email and I will add you to our list  and you will received occasional emails with work dates and times.  I’ll also send you the farm’s address and location and my cell phone number in case you get lost.  We are only 15 minutes west of downtown!  Like us on Facebook or check out our webpage.


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