At the Receiving End: Stories from the Road

Zsuzsa came to Cedar Circle Farm chasing sunflowers while biking Rt 5 on the summer of 2011. Later that year, she started volunteering at the farm, and in the spring of 2012 she became an intern and volunteer coordinator for the Willing Hands Garden. Under the direction of Will Allen, Zsuzsa and a team of community volunteers are growing fresh organic seasonal produce for the Willing Hands local food charity on an acre of land. She also works for Willing Hands as a driver, helping to deliver fresh foods to local families. Here she writes about her experience…

It is a pleasure to report that so far, our Willing Hands Garden behind the blueberry patch on Pavillion Road has been going well, and it is a handsome-looking place too! The volunteer teams on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings have battled torrential rainstorms, sweltering heat, and a family of gourmet woodchucks who kept (in the past tense, we hope) eating our more tender plants. Overall, however, we have been grateful for a season of beautiful growth and a nice diversity in the Garden.

Incidentally, one of the most rewarding things about growing food for the Willing Hands food charity is to bring and provide it to those who need it. Twice a week now, I have been driving the organization’s van, and meeting those regularly who donate – such as local food co-ops and farms – and people, who look for me on my days of delivery.

Have you ever experienced the glow that comes with many dozens of “Thank You!”s and “You take good care”s! at the end of a shift, a workday, or a job well done? With the glow also comes a smile that is heartwarming even hours after it has faded back into an inner recess from the face.

It is a delicate situation to be in need and for something as essential as food it may be even more taxing on the soul to come forth and say so, with honesty. Yet this is also what I respect most about those who make this work possible. On the one hand, those who save us produce that is not particularly beautiful anymore to go on the shelves in the stores or farmstands and, with the receiving end in mind, keep an eye out for our organization and have us covered. And on the other hand, those who are patiently waiting for the van to roll around the corner and maybe bring those strawberries, or just the onions or garlic someone needs for their meal, or the potatoes and lettuce that will allow a household to have salad on their table.

We do have time on my routes for brief conversations. Lives have been unfolding as I put the boxes down, and say friendly “Hello, How Are You?”s, with genuine interest. Ray, for instance, who also has a woodchuck problem, but has also seen the aurora borealis many times at his place. Susanna, who loves sweet potatoes and heirloom tomatoes – and who used to be an artist. She now takes flowers too, when we have them, and may start drawing again… Or Emma, who with all her eight years of age is already a smart market-goer, and thinks of her neighbor too with that extra pear, that extra head of cauliflower. They all know I have to go. They don’t want to hold me up. But when sometimes they add “You’ve made my day, thank you for listening,” well, that is when my receiving end is complete. Until the next time.

Zsuzsa Mitro

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