Community Food Initiatives Quench Food Desert< < Back to
ATHENS, Ohio – Corn, pumpkin, beans, popcorn and peas were just a few of the types of seeds handed out during the Community Food Initiatives annual free-seed give away held at public libraries throughout Athens County on Wednesday.
Scores of would-be gardeners turned out to accept unlimited numbers of seeds and learn from master gardeners who gave their time to answer questions at the Athens Public Library.
CFI said this was an opportunity for area residents to learn about seeds and the importance of growing nutritious foods.
CFI worker Moira Snuffer said this is the right thing to do for an impoverished region.
“One-fifth of people are hungry in Athens,” she said. “The people here are great and want food and if they have the opportunity to get it or learn about it, they’re more than happy about it.”
Athens is a “food desert,” composed of predominantly lower-income neighborhoods with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 23 percent of Athens County’s population finds it difficult to get to a grocery store – either because no local grocer exists or they have no vehicle to get them there.
Ninety percent of Ohio’s food takes three days to ship from California, over 2,400 miles away, according to Snuffer. CFI’s seed give away is an effort to fix that.
“You’re supporting your local farmers and your local community and by doing that, you’re getting fresher, tastier food and it keeps the economy healthy as well,” she said. “If you can grow it in your own yard, there is nothing that tastes better than that.”
The master gardeners answered questions about cultivating, planting, and harvesting. Master Gardener Rhonda Koch, who has been volunteering for 10 years with CFI, said the seed give away helps area residents in a number of ways.
“In helping maintain food security by having people raise their own food and being able to teach people how to grow their own food, to have seeds available for people who can’t go out and buy seeds,” she said.
To find out if you live in a food desert, go to https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-environment-atlas/go-to-the-atlas/.