Fighting Hunger One Vegetable at a Time

How many people can one tomatillo feed? More than 200,000 people in the past two years, and still growing. Holly Hirshberg and Pamela Price explain how in this TED talk.

In 2008, Holly Hirshberg formed The Dinner Garden after buying a tomatillo for fifteen cents at the grocery store. She took the seeds out of the tomatillo and grew four tomatillo plants in her garden and sent the rest of the seeds to Texas gardeners. Each tomatillo plant produced a few pounds of tomatillos, which in turn produced another hundred or so seeds for Holly to send out to gardeners again.

In two years, that fifteen cent tomatillo has contributed to the formation of 125 community gardens and over 50,000 home gardens. Now she gives away seeds on her site for free.

According to Holly Hirshberg, people who grow their own food have a little more money โ€“ more money to go towards rent or clothing or maybe savings. Gardeners also tend to be more active in the community. How many times has your neighborhood gardener shown up at your doorstep with a basket of zucchini?

Her suggestion of donating extra garden produce to food banks is a great one, if your local food bank accepts fresh produce. If not, be that gardener with the basket of zucchini. Get to know your neighbors.

She talks about common worries when starting a garden โ€“ no land, no green thumb, etc. – and how to overcome them. Links to each of the sites she mentions are on the blog Red, White, and Grew by Pamela Price.

Pamela Price is a journalist whose main interests are sustainability issues and grassroots civic action. She’s done a lot of research on victory gardens. Victory gardens were gardens planted during World War II in order to feed families during the times of rationing โ€“ an idea which intersects neatly with Holly Hirshberg’s concern about food insecurity.

Pamela Price’s discussion of โ€œorigin storiesโ€ reflects her position (and that of Holly Hirshberg) that home gardens are not some radical new fad and that they have been around for thousands of years.

The talk is a little over thirteen minutes long and full of information.

Image of tomatillo by randomduck, used with Creative Commons license.

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