Volunteers plant vegetable gardens for low-income households


Volunteers plant vegetable gardens for low-income households

BOZEMAN, Mont. - As food prices rise, a group in Bozeman is helping give low income families a way to grow their own food, by planting vegetable gardens.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices rose 0.4 percent in February, the highest increase since 2011.

And the Agriculture Department expects grocery prices could increase up to 3.5 percent in 2014.

The group "1000 New Gardens" hopes it can help families with food costs, the old fashioned way.

Joyce Drolette can already picture her yard transformed into a garden full of fresh vegetables.

"Green peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli, and onions, and garlic," she said.

On Saturday, Joyce got a jump start to making her dream a reality, thanks to "1000 New Gardens," a group dedicated to installing free gardens for low income families, or for people with physical or time limitations.

"They're doing a lot of work!" Joyce said. "It's helping me put in a good foundation for a nicer, larger garden."

There are a lot of people in low income communities that aren't able to afford vegetables," explained 1000 New Gardens President Sebastiaan Stokhof de Jong, "much less fresh vegetables, and lots of people have a yard and they can't afford actually building the garden."

Stokhof de Jong said helping people stay healthy is a goal of the organization.

"Our country is pretty unhealthy, I'd say, in general," he said, "and people can't afford quality food, so it's important to help people supply themselves with quality food when they want it."

"I really care about gardening because I think that sustaining your own food sources is really important," said volunteer Jordyn Steele.

Steele said she's a part of the group because she wants everyone to know how doable having a garden can be, especially after 1000 New Gardens comes in to do most of the heavy lifting.

"[The family's] responsibility would be just to water and it get the kids to help out, and to help pick the plants when they're ready," Steele explained. "It's pretty easy to do and it makes you feel better."

Joyce said the help from the volunteers is invaluable to her success as someone learning to grow her own food.

"I'm just an amateur," she said. "I don't know what I'm doing, so it's good to have the help."

30 volunteers split into five teams and helped create 10 gardens on Saturday.

1000 New Gardens was established in 2009 in Missoula, before expanding to Bozeman.

To learn more about the group, visit http://1000newgardens.ning.com/

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