Editor’s Note: I’ve asked Holly to fill us all in on her non-profit which provides free seeds to individuals who want to raise veggies. Note that you can follow Holly on Twitter (@dinnergarden).
When I started The Dinner Garden a year and a half ago, my vision was of a hunger fighting non-profit that would give people hope in the midst of a desperate situation. When the economy tanked, people who had never needed help before didn’t know where to turn. Organizations that had offered help for years were suffering from a lack of funding at the exact time when their services were needed the most. Everyone was feeling the pressure from the troubled economy and felt like they had run out of options.
My idea was to give people seeds to start home gardens, much like the Victory Gardens during the World Wars. Lots of people I met had heard of Victory Gardens, but to most Americans, the skills to grow a garden had been lost over time. Over the past few decades, gardening had come to be seen as an expensive, labor intensive hobby—a hobby that was only undertaken on a small scale to by people growing a couple pots of tomatoes on the back porch. We encountered people who didn’t know vegetables could grow from seeds and didn’t know that a lot of seeds from produce they bought at the store could grow into beautiful, productive plants.
While researching, I learned that gardening has really changed over the years. Gone are the days of tilling and sweating out in the hot sun. New and innovative techniques have made gardening easier than ever before. Even more amazingly, home gardeners do not need purchased supplies. Sure, there are many wonderful products on the market, but people have been growing their own food long before garden stores came into being. It became clear that the only thing our gardeners would need to spend money on would be the seeds. We would provide the seeds and teach people to grow using things they had around the house. We would connect them with the information needed to grow food as painlessly and effortlessly as possible.
We decided we would reinvent the non-profit framework. Instead of being fear based, we would be solution based. We would be inclusive and create a cost effective, sustainable solution to hunger. With that in mind, we needed a name that was hopeful, clear about our mission, and reinforced the idea of gardening to grow food. To me, the name The Dinner Garden said it all. It evoked images of families working together in the sunshine and eating delicious food together at the home.
To match the name, we have a cheerful logo and a happy, hopeful outlook that we try to project in everything we do. We want to know all of our gardeners as individuals. We want to work together in a community of Americans who want to end hunger together. Social media was a natural match for us!
The Dinner Garden gets by on donations, faith in the mission, and the determination to make it work. All of our marketing is done online using Facebook, Twitter, our blog, and our website. We consider The Dinner Garden to be the property and the responsibility of all citizens. If someone has an idea, we want to be accessible for them to bring it to us. If they are struggling with growing or have information to share, we want to bring them into our conversation. The Dinner Garden isn’t just about the seeds. We are about hope, community and the belief that if we all work together, we will create an America where the solution to hunger is in your backyard.