With recent requests from Portland, Oregon, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for information on starting local chapters of Backyard Harvest, Amy hopes that communities from coast to coast will follow suit. The group has also partnered with the city of Moscow to allow families to use food stamps at the area farmers' market to purchase fresh produce. "When times are tough—and they certainly are right now—there's no easier way to give people nutritious meals and let them know someone cares," she says. "There's a special look in people's eyes when they receive food from others who've planted and harvested it with their own hands. I was dropping off produce at a food bank once when a woman came up to me and said, 'This makes me feel loved.' I told her it goes both ways. And believe me, I get more than I give."
The blessings extend to her whole family. "Mark and I were a couple of city kids with no idea what to expect when we got here," she says. "Now we feel we belong. In fact, we raved about Idaho and the Northwest so much that when my parents retired last year, they moved from Chicago to Spokane, Washington. They help out with the harvest when they visit, right alongside their grandsons. We've all become friends with many of our neighbors in need who we'd never have met otherwise. They'll be in our hearts forever."
Calling All Cooks
Know how to make a delicious zucchini casserole that even the kids love? Have advice on preparing rutabaga or storing peas? Backyard Harvest is putting together tips and recipe cards to accompany produce donations. Go to backyardharvest.org to e-mail your ideas—or to make a contribution online. You can also send a check to Backyard Harvest, P.O. Box 9783, Moscow, Idaho 83843.
Originally published in the August 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.