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, over $8 of produce is received.  So a $50 voucher can return as much as $400 in produce value.

To apply for the gardening program, please contact your local WAMY office in March and ask for an application. Applications are accepted in February and March. 

A visit with Christopher Edwards cannot end without a tour of his beautiful garden in Yancey County.  He loves to walk through the rows and explains what each type of bean is, how he is keeping pests away and to check on his tomatoes.  Christopher’s garden, and his life, is a testimony to the hard work and sense of community that is so strong in these mountains.  He has been able to take a simple garden voucher, that was provided through your grant to WAMY, and turn it into a massive garden that feeds himself and others

The bounty is overwhelming.  Beans hang high, corn is tall and strong, and plants hang heavy with tomatoes.  These along with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and watermelon are just a few of the crops that show the evidence of all his hard work.  Even though Christopher is living below the poverty level himself, he shares any extra with needy families in the community.  “There is always someone in worse shape than me” is his explanation.  His church has a food drive and he takes baskets full of produce to share with those even less fortunate.  No one goes away without bags of produce.  In all, he said that he provides to at least 30 families or more each season.

Life has not been easy for Christopher.  In his younger days, he worked doing construction for the state.  Then, he was a deputy sheriff for many years.  In his daily work, he saw the needs and struggles of a lot of families within the community.  He worked to help in any way he could, but health issues sidelined him many years ago. Rheumatoid arthritis crippled his hands and body so badly that he could no longer work. At first, he rarely got out of the house, but then he realized that activity made him feel better.   He made himself get up and do more and more and, slowly, gained his strength back.  He gradually got back to gardening and the more he did, the better he felt.  Christopher is so thankful to be able to, once again, work in the garden.  He is also grateful that he can grow his own food and have some to give away to those in need. 

Thanks to your support, one small garden voucher is affecting several lives and assisting several families.  Christopher is getting the physical activity he needs, grows fresh food for his own use and is able to give some back to his community.