by Kristen Ploetz
BAG Board Member since 2012 and Chair of Fundraising Committee
Around the time my daughter was inching toward four years old, I was at a personal and professional point in my life where I questioned the work that I was doing as an attorney. Truth be told, I hated going to court and I wasn’t entirely in love with a full-time work schedule anymore. I questioned how it fit in with the other puzzle pieces of my life that include a young daughter, my fondness for growing some of our own food, a deepening interest in sustainable agriculture and a longing to pay forward some of the luck I’ve had in my life. I think this is the plight of many new mothers: to question, re-prioritize and expand our sense of community, if not for ourselves, then certainly for our young children.
In my mind, I shifted the pieces around several times until I found the right fit. To cut to the chase: I quit my job, started my own small business, ratcheted back some of the time my daughter spent in preschool, then added three more raised beds to our vegetable garden.
And, perhaps most unexpectedly, I discovered BAG and joined the board.
My service on the board has been one of the most fulfilling, if not educating, experiences of my life. Admittedly, it has been a lot more time and work than I initially envisioned and planned for, but the rewards far outweigh the minor drawbacks. Isn’t that always the beauty of giving back?
I think what invigorates me most about BAG and its mission, is that it is such an elegantly simple solution to a very thorny and ugly problem: hunger. The thing is, none of us know what anyone else’s story is, or how even our own can change in the blink of an eye. On a purely human level, outside of any politics or religious dogma, there are only a few things any of us really need. Good, fresh food is one of them. This is the one thing that I find is so important to make sure others can access. It is a message that I send often to my daughter when she isn’t interested in eating her garden peas or ripe red strawberries. We are lucky. Many are not.
I don’t honestly care what the reason might be that someone needs help or a free meal. If they are not properly nourished, then the ability to break free of whatever else is holding them down will never come. Full bellies can lead to a clear mind. Or at least I think so.
Moreover, being a backyard gardener, I can (on a far smaller scale) empathize with the plight of the farmer who has toiled months long in the summer heat and finds herself with an abundance that might otherwise go wasted. It is not right. There must be a better way. This, too, is the plight of those of us who grow zucchinis. So what do we do? We give them away. We build community with our neighbors. We make sure they are fed. And, as a result, we walk away with more gold in our hearts.