Last summer, cancer survivor Debbie Arndt and her disabled husband gave away a thousand pounds of tomatoes alone to seniors living in the Jefferson County area of Southern Illinois.
“We grow tomatoes, zucchini, okra, onions, carrots, lots and lots of tomatoes, anything we can possibly get to grow, asparagus, green beans, asparagus, whatever they like we grow. And I keep a list of what they can and cannot for certain people and I make sure that they get food.”
Food For Seniors
Arndt said it’s what peole should do. “We have land out in the country, and we realized that a lot of the elderly in the community are going hungry. They do not have the ability financially to get fresh fruits and vetgetables. I started growing food a couple of years ago, taking it around, giving it to them at their homes and over the past year it’s gone crazy.”
After expanding their Belle Rive garden four-fold, they hope to provide even more food than they did to last year to seniors and even to food pantries.
Arndt says they regularly load up their pick-up, make a few calls, and head out.
Pass It On
“I grew up in an orphanage. “said Arndt. “We didn’t have much as a child. And I grow the foods because I see what I can do for other people. It’s something that simple. I tell people grow a garden, feed your neighbor. If you see someone in need just, plant your seeds so you can feed, that’s what I tell people. Pass it on.”
People ask if they can pay for the fruit and vegetables, but the Arndts refuse. “I will take hugs and kisses, that’s all I want. And I tello other people, help others.”
“Basically I have a pickup truck, and I have a list of names and addresses. Through word of mouth, people call me and I call a couple of people like in the retirement apartments for the low income, and I tell them when I’m coming. By the time I get there they’re all standing outside with their bags to come and get their fresh vegetables. If they’re disabled, we take it around to their homes to give it to them in person.”
The biggest short-term problem they have is replacing their dead roto-tiller.
Arndt says her husband called recently and asked if she was expecting something to be delivered. She said no and investigation showed that someone had dropped off the parts of a pre-fab greenhouse which will come in handy in propagating seeds for themselves.
Our Giving Hands Garden is located at RR #1, Box 482, Belle Rive, IL 62810.