Alpena 4-H’er feeds more than 40 local families and teaches over 500 children about gardening

One Northern Michigan teen makes an impact in her community after learning that many families in the state suffer from hunger.

One Northern Michigan teen makes an impact in her community after learning that many families in the state suffer from hunger.

When Dana Glomski, an 18-year-old 4-H’er in Alpena County, was browsing the Internet two years ago, she came across a posting about a local hoophouse. The hoophouse, owned by a soldier who had been deployed to Afghanistan, housed a community-supported agriculture (CSA) project providing fresh vegetables to the community and needed someone to preserve the grounds.

Dana’s motivation to get involved came while she was writing an essay for school and discovered how many families in Michigan can’t afford to feed their children.

“The numbers astonished me,” Dana said. “I went further and looked at low-income numbers and was shocked at the number of families in Michigan whose children receive free or reduced-price school lunches. I knew I had to do it.”

The hoophouse, located in Alpena, provides fresh, organic vegetables to community members who prepay for their shares. Volunteers help grow and tend the harvest and after each harvest, those who have prepaid receive their share of fresh vegetables. Dana says that for a family of four, one regular share will last one week, and the senior low-income share will last one person one week.

As the operator, Dana has many roles, such as seed purchaser and planter, weeder, waterer -- basically, she does anything that needs to get done.

After a successful turnout her first year, with 10 full shares and 25 discounted senior and low-income shares, she kept going.

“When she started this, she had no idea what the demand would be for it,” said Kitty Glomski, Dana’s mother. “The people that were with the former CSA stayed with this project, and many of them volunteered. Since the demand has grown, she has provided fresh vegetables for more than 40 families.”

A large number of those who receive shares in the community are low-income seniors who rely on walkers and power chairs for mobility and are unable to do their own shopping.

“We have people combating health issues by diet, and they specifically want organic vegetables,” Glomski said. “It’s very meaningful to our seniors.”

“A lot of the seniors don’t get out doing their own shopping, it’s difficult for them to get to the grocery store and prepare their own meals and pay attention to their diet,” Dana said.

If members are unable to pick up their shares one week, Dana will set them aside or deliver them.

“The garden is a way to add excitement to their diet by bringing something new to them every week,” Dana said.

With the success of the hoophouse, Dana wanted to do something more to help the youth in her community. Her motivation was a conversation with the kindergartener she mentored when she was in sixth grade.

“One day I asked her where carrots came from. Her answer was ’the store,’” Dana said. “Being a farmer who has raised animals and grown plants, I knew that kids should know where their food comes from.”

Dana applied for two grants to use for a 4-H Children’s Garden within the Stone Soup Garden in Alpena. She received $5,000 from Wal-Mart and $1,000 through a 4-H Foundation grant. The grants were to “teach a sprout to garden” -- for hands-on gardening with preschool kids.

Both grants were used to bring local children to the hoophouse farm, where they would learn about gardens and how to prepare them, and let them have plant-growing experiences.

“We gave kids seeds and pots that they took home and grew themselves, then they would bring them back and they would see how they grew over the summer,” Dana said.

Dana has found that many of the children who come to the 4-H Children’s Garden get so excited about the satisfaction of growing plants that they push their parents to start growing at home.

During the summer 2012 season, Dana worked with more than 510 children in her community.

“I feel better about myself because I have given back to the community. I love what I’m doing. It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t change it for anything,” she said.

Dana is part of the nationwide 4-H Revolution of Responsibility campaign. The campaign is an effort by youth across the United States to identify community issues and take action to defeat the standing obstacles and solve the problem. The aim of the uncommon youth efforts is to create a culture‑changing revolution nationwide by building strong, positive communities.

“A lot of people have great ideas and they always say they’ll do it, but many don’t pull through,” Dana said. “My advice is just do it. You get the satisfaction of doing something great for your community and the satisfaction of your community thanking you.”

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