I’m incredibly excited to announce some new programs that I am launching in partnership with the Live Like Ally Foundation!
Together we are on a mission to help people across the USA to live more happy, healthy and sustainable lives. And we think one of the simplest and best ways to do that is through our food. Each day we make choices with the food we eat that has an impact not just on our own bodies, but on our communities, other species, and the Earth as a whole. Our mission is to help others to grow their own organic, healthy food and we are launching four programs to empower people across the nation to do so.
Gardening isn’t taught in our schools, by our government, and most businesses are in the business of selling us food, not showing us how to produce our own. There are many barriers to growing our own food, whether it be time, money, education, or others. Through the Free Seed Project, we aim to reduce these barriers to help people start their first garden or help anyone who doesn’t have funds to purchase seeds. What we do is send out a free garden starter kit to anyone who wants to start a garden. We send 20-25 different vegetables, and about 20 seeds of each. One small envelope in the mail will contain the seeds for a sizable garden that will produce lots of healthy food! By ordering our seeds in bulk we can reduce the cost of seeds on our end to send a seed pack that might have cost $50 to purchase. We’ll also send seeds for flowers that feed and give habitat to butterflies and bees. These creatures need our help!
The seeds we provide are high quality organic and heirloom seeds that most people don’t have access to in their community. Along with the kit we also provide basic information on how to start a garden and how to plant the seeds. Our goal is to help people not just to start their first gardens, but to be successful in growing their food and sharing with their community.
Gardens for Single Moms (website coming soon)
The mission of Gardens for Single Moms is very simple, to help single moms to grow their own organic, healthy food for their families. Single parents are often short on time, resources, and money to build and maintain their own gardens and our mission is to help them get started and teach them how to sustainably grow their own food. We will install the gardens and then maintain them for the first three months. During the first season we will spend a few hours each week in the garden with the family to teach them how to grow and harvest their own food. We supply them with everything they need to get started plus the seeds for the first year of gardening. We also plant beneficial flowers for bees and butterflies and create habitat for local beneficial critters. Each garden will have a few fruit trees as well. Besides spending time in their gardens with the families we will also host a potluck and a cooking class that focuses on how to use the food from their own gardens.
Community Fruit Trees (website coming soon)
In Orlando we will be planting 100 community fruit trees. What is a community fruit tree? It’s a tree that is free for the pickin’ for the whole community! We’re on a mission to wake people up to the idea that food doesn’t have to come from the store. It can be growing all around us! We’ll plant fruit trees in places where the public has access to them such as residential front yards with sidewalk access, street medians, community centers, schools, and churches. Hundreds of people will get to pick these fruits for years to come. And we want to inspire people to plant more fruit trees in their own front yard to eat and share with their neighborhood. Fruit trees can produce free food to help with food security for decades and require minimal input at the start and minimal maintenance in the long run.
Community Compost (website coming soon)
Nearly half of all food is wasted in the United States. That’s about $165 billion dollars worth per year. It’s a pretty unfathomable amount of food and much of it goes to landfills where it rots and emits greenhouse gases. Yet, with all this abundance, 1 in 7 Americans are food insecure. That’s fifty million people, largely comprised of children and elders. Through the community compost program, we will show people that they can turn their food scraps and food waste back into healthy, organic food through simple composting!
We will give local residents a five-gallon bucket where they will place their food scraps, instead of putting it in the garbage. Each week they’ll put the bucket in their front yard and we’ll come and pick it up and swap it with a clean bucket. The best part of this is that we’ll do it all without burning any fossil fuels. We’ve had a bicycle trailer made so we can do the entire community compost program by bike. We’ll then compost all of the food waste and turn it into rich compost. This will be used in our local garden programs to produce organic food for the community! Our goal is to rescue 10,000 pounds of food on bikes from going to the landfill in 2018.
I am so incredibly excited to be partnering with the Live Like Ally Foundation to bring all of this good to the world. The Live Like Ally Foundation was created in memory of Ally Willen. Ally was a very special young woman. At the beginning of 2015, Allison “Ally” Lynn Willen, a Human Development student at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, left the U.S. for a semester abroad. She chose the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, partly to indulge her passion for trekking, but also to challenge herself with new experiences, to literally go farther. While trekking with other students in New Zealand’s Mount Aspiring National Park, a torrential downpour turned into a flash flood, and turned their hike into a nightmare. Ally became separated from the group and didn’t show up at a checkpoint. Apparently, she slipped into a rain engorged creek and was swept away.
As word spread of the tragedy, the Willen family was inundated with condolences, and kindnesses. One word kept cropping up in all the outpouring: “inspiring.” Live Like Ally encapsulates the principles that Ally clearly and beautifully demonstrated throughout her life. These principles include embracing life courageously, whole-heartedly, and without regrets; being committed to making this world a better place for all living things, an active reverence for the Earth, and a willingness to move out of a comfort zone and push past personal limitations. Her spirit cannot be dimmed even though her body has ceased to be.
When I learned Ally’s story, I became inspired to help Ally’s message live on. I know that if she were alive today and that if we met, we would make great friends. It is because of Ally’s passion that these programs are being created and will positively affect thousands of people.
Spring is coming soon, and we are working quickly to get all of these programs started. I’m incredibly excited to be working with the Willen’s to help Ally’s work live on and make the world a happier, healthier place.