Unemployed workers learn to grow their own food
In Ohio, a private college teaches 20 families with unemployed workers how to put food on the table by growing vegetables
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"There was a lot of motivation here," Mr. Anderson says.Skip to next paragraph
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Gardeners need to remain committed, he says, or community gardens can turn into a mess. Two families dropped out in Wilmington but were quickly replaced. The project's structured approach, including weekly meetings, helped keep it on target, Anderson says.
As the first lettuce, green beans and tomatoes ripened, gardening lessons were supplemented by demonstrations on cooking and preserving crops. The lessons were conducted using a picnic table and a portable stove.
"It was pretty primitive out here," says Anderson with a laugh, adding that the school is seeking grants for more cooking equipment and other materials for next year.
Lori Fetherolf, who had been without a steady job for nearly a year, says she had always considered a garden too demanding, but was pleasantly surprised that by regularly investing about an hour a week — more during harvest time — she could grow many vegetables to get her through the winter.
"It's been a tremendous help," she says. "Vegetables are expensive in the grocery store."
She learned to make fresh radish dip and to cook squash for the first time. She grew nearly 100 tomatoes. She says she realized that while unemployed, she had been filling up on cheap foods that weren't good for her.
"This has allowed me to start eating healthier," she says. "I'm amazed at how much better fresh green beans taste than out of the can."
With their newly acquired agricultural knowledge, the Gillis family is planning a garden at home next year and possibly a second garden for corn, which takes up too much ground for the small college plots.
"We learned a lot of basic things," says Josh. "We learned how far down to plant the seeds, how far apart to spread them. I didn't know; I thought you just put it in the ground and it all comes up."
But they also want to participate again in the college project.
"I've met a lot of people here. We share vegetables with each other," he says. "It's really been good to get out here in the community and work together."
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