Food & Nutrition

WAMY Community Action, Inc. has always been focused on services to make people more self-sufficient, and what is more self-sustaining that growing your own produce?  WAMY has operated a gardening program for decades.  This program provides garden vouchers for low-income citizens to get seeds, fertilizer, tools, plants and canning and freezing supplies.  For a senior living on a fixed income, this voucher means they can have a garden and food to put away for the winter.

On the surface, these vouchers provide short-term assistance to the families by enabling them to have a garden and provide for their families.  In the long term, the vegetables they put away by canning or freezing can feed their families for up to two years.  WAMY has calculated the return on investment for this program and it is an astonishing 25:1 ration.  For every $1 that is invested into a voucher, $25 of produce is received.  So a $50 voucher can return as much as $1,250 in produce value.

To apply for the gardening program, please contact your local WAMY office in March and ask for an application.  Vouchers are usually given out in April or May. 

Betty and her husband Doug live in a small, quaint rental home in Watauga County. They live on a meager income of $13,000 a year, but to them, that is enough. Doug was injured in his job and fought for years to get his disability. Before it was awarded, they were living on less than $750 per month. So, the additional $333 each month made a huge difference. Even though they are far below the poverty level, Betty and Doug are happy. With some help from the WAMY gardening program, they have a big garden and take great pride in making it beautiful. The rows are perfectly straight, there are no weeds, and beans and peas are strung up carefully. “Of all the years I have been visiting these gardens, this is by far the prettiest plot I’ve ever seen” says Colleen Bare who operates the Gardening program in Watauga County. The gardening program is entirely funded through private donations and local funding. Based on recent studies, the return on investment for the program is 25:1. Betty summed it up by saying, “If it wasn’t for WAMY we wouldn’t have a garden and if it wasn’t for our garden, we wouldn’t be able to eat.” Last year, Betty and Doug had 15 bushels of potatoes, 30 quarts of green beans, 55 quarts of shellys and plenty of peas, carrots, relish and more. Doug said he had gardened his whole life and was grateful to know how to grow his own food.