When you look at Iowa in the summer – with its bountiful crops and fertile soil – there’s no reason people should be hungry.
That’s the philosophy and the selfless goal of Tracy Blackmer (A)(’90 agronomy) of rural Madrid, Iowa. For the past four years, Blackmer has been organizing an army of volunteers to help tend his 10-acre garden for one purpose and one purpose only: To give the food away to those who need it.
This week, the ISU Alumni Association staff teamed up with colleagues at Nationwide Insurance to harvest peppers in the summer heat. So far this season, more than 8,000 pounds of food from Blackmer’s garden has been donated to the Food Bank of Iowa, a not-for-profit organization that disperses the produce to food pantries and other volunteer agencies in central Iowa. As of this week, Blackmer estimates that as many of 4,000 volunteers have worked in his bountiful vegetable patch this year, taking on such tasks as planting, weeding, and harvesting.
“This is my hobby,” he said. “I enjoy doing it, and it helps others. People want to make a difference, and we just provide a place for them to do it.”
In addition to the peppers the Alumni Association staff harvested, Blackmer and his wife, Doreen (A)(’88 animal science) are growing eggplant, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, zucchini, winter squash, cabbage, turnips, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and string beans – a veritable vegetable soup of flavorful produce.
The time each volunteer worked in the garden was recorded and submitted to our Cy’s Days of Service program. Cy’s Days of Service is designed to unite Cyclones everywhere in community service while spreading their ISU pride. If you have completed or plan to participate in any service opportunities before May 2018, you can report your hours on our Cy’s Days of Service website.
Whether your volunteer work is specially designed for Cy’s Days of Service or a project you’re doing with family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues, it can all be counted to help us reach our goal of 30,000 hours of service. Be sure to wear ISU apparel so your photos will showcase how Cyclones everywhere are making a difference in their communities!