Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
Valley Verde (Green Valley) is located in the Santa Clara Valley in California. PHP provided a first-time grant to them for their work in 2013 to address poverty and food insecurity among vulnerable California residents living in low-income neighborhoods in Gilroy and San Jose. Most of the participants are recent immigrants. Valley Verde provides everything they need to establish organic home gardens and the residents take it from there with support and guidance from mentors throughout the year. Here is Esperanza's story.
Esperanza, a mother of two children pictured here, is growing healthy food for her family.
Back in her home country Esperanza wanted to have a career. She went to college and studied business. When her husband decided to move to the US in search of better employment opportunities, Esperanza didn't want to follow him. But then she realized that staying alone with her daughters didn't feel right. About a year ago, she moved to the US to join her husband. At the beginning, she struggled to find a sense of community and to access healthy food for her family.
But that changed when she learned about the gardening program provided by Valley Verde. Esperanza had never gardened before, but her daughters were so enthusiastic about the program that she decided to take a chance. Valley Verde helped her plant a garden and taught her how to take care of it.
Esperanza now has two beautiful garden beds, and she is able to provide high-quality, organic vegetables to her children. The garden has helped Esperanza's family economically because she no longer has to purchase some vegetables from the store. As importantly, Esperanza feels less lonely, is active and is engaging with others in the community.
"My garden really helped me to feel better and less lonely. I see how my plants are growing and changing every day and I feel good about growing my own food. I haven't bought lettuce or cabbage for the last four months" (Esperanza, 2013).
New Seed Survey Report Highlights Privatization Concerns
The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance today released A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices across the US in celebration of La Via Campesina's International Day of Farmers' Struggles in Defense of Peasants' and Farmers' Seeds – April 17.
The report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones. Responses reveal that many growers save and share seeds to produce healthy food, preserve their cultural heritage, and to defy efforts by transnational agribusinesses to privately patent and monopolize control of seeds.
The report is especially pertinent during 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, as designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Based on the surveys and the Call to Action of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the report provides individual, community, national and international action recommendations aimed at defending seeds from privatization and preserving them for the common good.
As a member of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joins in presenting this report in solidarity with La Via Campesina in its global efforts to defend food and seed sovereignty. The report is available to read at usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org and on our website at pcusa.org/food.
For more information:
Andrew Kang Bartlett, Presbyterian Hunger Program, PC(USA) – 502.569.5388
Devika Ghai, Pesticide Action Network North America – 415.728.0169
Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition – 773.319.583
Charity Hicks, East Michigan Environmental Action Council – 313.725.0554
Sara Mersha, Grassroots International – 617.524.1400
Gardening in winter and looking forward toward spring!
Update from our farm (by Will Summers and Kitty Ufford-Chase)
Greetings from the winter wonderland that is the Stony Point Center!
What a winter it's been. In the past month, we've had snow, snow, and more snow. And it has just kept piling up.
During one recent 24-hour stretch, we probably got about 18 inches! My major concern in a blizzard like that is the greenhouse. It's not what's inside the greenhouse that I'm worried about in a snowstorm, but the greenhouse itself. More than a foot of heavy, wet snow has the potential to damage the entire structure.
After this particular snowstorm, Matt and I spent an entire morning clearing snow off the greenhouse roof and then removing all the snow that had piled up on the sides that continued to put pressure on the plastic and the frame. We had to dig in the snow by hand because snow shovels can very easily puncture the greenhouse plastic. It was quite a day-I was soaking wet after spending the entire morning essentially waist-deep in the snow.
Despite the polar vortex, our greenhouse crops continue to grow. We've taken extra precautions by double-covering them when weather forecasts indicate temperatures will be in the single-digits (which has been quite frequent this winter). In just the past week, our greenhouse spinach has really started to grow quickly as the days get incrementally longer. We're still harvesting kale, collards, chard, and arugula from the greenhouse as well.
Recently we've put a lot of energy into preparing our greenhouse for spring seeding. In fact, by the end of February, we will have seeded lettuce, spinach, and onions that will be transplanted in the fields in March or April (assuming, of course, that all that snow eventually melts!).
Needless to say, here at Stony Point Center, all of us on the farm crew are eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring.
Peace and winter blessings,
Will (the Stony Point Center Farmer) and Kitty
No, I’m not about to give a review of the popular teen novel recently turned movie although the themes presented in the novel have a scary reality. I’m talking about the real life hunger game being played by those in power under the good deed facade that plays at heart strings but in reality disempowers many. You know the game, the one where the powers that be portray themselves as the do-gooders helping those in “need” but in reality are capitalizing on the misfortunes of others. Unfortunately, this happens all too often but most specifically I’m talking ...
“I just want to peek inside real quick. Okay?” I said. The plastic sign read “Village Pantry,” with a big red tomato on it. It was right around the corner from an apartment I was considering, and I was curious to see what I would be dealing with.
“Of course,” my dad agreed with a laugh, as I jumped out of the car and through the doors of the corner store. I quickly darted up and down the isles, glancing at beef jerky, chips, and candy bars. I picked up a sandwich or two in the “Bistro” case, noting the offsite packaging plant.
After my curiosity was satisfied, I walked out of the store and back to my car.
“Did they have a good organic section?” Dad joked.
“Not even a tomato,” I replied before pulling out of the parking lot, “or a can of beans to stock the pantry.”