One of the more prevalent daily impacts of COVID-19 is the ghostly supermarket aisles. Once packed shelves are missing their array of color, from the emerald tinge in chip packets to the purple ombre in toilet paper. However, these shades still pop up in neighbors’ gardens—particularly Susan Mickelson’s. Her kindness instincts shifted gears towards our #RACultivatingKindness initiative highlighting food equity.
Picking up Spades, Growing Urban Kits
A food pantry is different from a food bank; the former gives out food directly to those who are hungry, using the latter’s supply. Susan, who volunteers with Random Acts as a Regional Representative in the U.S. Great Lakes area, runs a food pantry in her spare time. So, it would make sense that she has an interest in the food equity initiative. The creation of gardens on unused land can help meet this goal. Susan hoped to inspire hands picking up spades by handing out growing kits to food pantry clients.
Growing a Skillfull Tool Belt
With the help of additional non-food funding put aside by the pantry, Susan bought pots, dirt, and trellises. The local hardware store donated seeds. Susan creatively whipped together a “how to read a seed packet” flyer. She then curated these items to form growing kits.
As with most changes to one’s routine, at first, there was a disgruntled reaction.
“A lot of people said, ‘oh, I can’t grow anything, I have a brown thumb,’ and weren’t even willing to try,” Susan said. “One kid really wanted to grow green beans, so I kind of pestered his mom into taking a pot; she wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but I kept saying, ‘if it doesn’t grow, you haven’t wasted anything.’”
Eventually, there was a touch of eagerness among patrons who wanted to start their own gardens.
“Some of the clients were super excited. [They said] that this was the best thing they had ever seen and were really looking forward to growing something,” Susan said.