Mar 19, 2020

Our New Normal

Executive Director's reflections

everyone deserves fresh produce

Executive Director's reflections

Executive Director Reflections

Executive Director Reflections

I woke up Monday morning wearied by the weekend’s onslaught of emails about COVID-19, the region’s toilet paper shortage, and my general anxieties about the health of my family. And I worried about the amount of food in my pantry for myself and my family.

I spent the start of my week sending emails about cancelled meetings and postponed trainings, engaging with staff about volunteer recruitment, and running around at home, my three children now homebound for who knows how long. I could feel the fatigue and discouragement weighing me down.

But then, I received an email that shifted my perspective. A member of the Food Growers Network wrote, "It is evident to me, more now than ever, how important The GardenWorks Project is, and how needed it will be for many people in the year to come! I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have taken all the GardenWorks classes on seed saving, canning, composting and more!" 

This captures the essence of our mission. The GardenWorks Project exists to promote fresh, local food and improve the health of our community, especially the families who don’t know where their next meal will come from. Our work to increase access to fresh food and self-sufficiency is critical in the daily lives of our clients—but it has expanded its reach to have profound significance in times of uncertainty—like now. 

It touches the whole food system, from food growers and restaurants to families wondering how they’re going to put food on the table. There is normally little concern of food scarcity in a developed, capitalist nation; however, when you factor in a world pandemic with market instability and a general fear of the unknown, the scarcity is in our faces: bare grocery shelves; fewer school meals; closed farmers markets; seniors urged to stay inside.

We don’t know what tomorrow may bring, and as we practice social distancing over the next few weeks, we have an opportunity to reflect on all we do have. This year, consider starting a garden and help grow the local food system. Here are a few easy ways to get started:

Join the Food Growers Network. We’ll ship you 20 seeds to get your spring garden started. Grow food for your family, your neighbors and local food pantries that are meeting increased demand with fewer resources. 

Sign up for our newsletter. We frequently share free resources that are available on our website, provide programming updates, share local food system news and keep you in the know about the work you’re making possible. 

Engage with The GardenWorks Project on social. Follow us on Twitter for fun articles and gardening tips. Follow us on Instagram for beautiful, colorful veggies. Share with and learn from our food growing experts on Facebook

We may not be able to grow toilet paper, but growing and harvesting your own food is a skill that got our families through hard times before and will help us this time, too. Learning to grow is an asset that will pay dividends in the long run, not only for yourself, but for those around you and your neighbors in need.

To health and a plentiful harvest,


Jeannie Iseman

Executive Director

The GardenWorks Project