Hometown Farmer - Up From the Earth

Hometown Farmer - Up From the Earth

Food deserts and hunger are problems you might not think we have here in the midwest, or in Siouxland.

But we do.

This week in "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," we're talking about a group, hoping to use a little bit of extra produce to make sure a whole lot of people don't go hungry.

Randy Burnight hasn't seen this very often this summer: a rain gauge that needs emptied.

"I'd say we got a good, solid quarter inch here," said Burnight.

He's pretty happy about it and his plants probably are, too.

"My garden, if you listened, I think you could hear it cheering," said Burnight.

With a lot of watering, his backyard garden's doing pretty well this year.

His onions are out already, but there's still a lot of produce in the ground.

Some is destined for a great cause.

"There's no reason to be hungry in Sioux City, Iowa or right in the midwest," said Burnight. "The breadbasket of the United States."

Randy helped start "Up From the Earth."

It's a non-profit group encouraging gardeners to "Grow an Extra Row," or at least give extra produce to people who need it most.

"In the metropolitan area about 14,000 people are food insecure," said Burnight. "That's one out of six adults and one out of five kids don't know on a regular basis where their next meal's coming from."

So if you took the advice from "Up From the Earth" and grew an extra row in your garden at home, what do you do with all that extra produce?

You can drop it off at donation sites all around town, like the Community Action Agency of Siouxland in Morningside.

"We didn't reinvent anything, we just connected the dots," said Burnight. "Those in need with those that had too much, with our food pantry system already up and running."

The food gets distributed at already-existing food pantries all across town.

Since starting in 2014, Randy estimates the group has brought in more than 50,000 pounds of food.

"That translates to about 150,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables for those in need," said Burnight.

"Up from the Earth" received a grant from "Women United" to help with funding.

If you're interested in food donation sites, or the locations of food pantries, please check the "Up From the Earth" Facebook page, at: facebook.com/upfromtheearth.

You can also view the "Up From the Earth," web site, at: upfromtheearth.wixsite.com/siouxland.

If you know a farmer you'd like to see featured on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at: jheller@siouxlandnews.com.

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