What can we do?

by Brittany Grace

Photo by Dusty Compton, AP/ The Tuscaloosa News

There are currently a plentitude of articles describing the aftermath of hell-bent tornadoes. After so many ravaged the south last week, I read several to figure out how Grace’s Goodness could contribute help.

I came across a particularly poignant piece of news that had tears threatening my eyes while reading about people in the embryonic stages of helping rebuild homes, schools, neighborhoods, and entire communities.

Photo courtesy of Getty images

From a New York Times article entitled, In Tornado Zone, Many Ask, ‘How can we help?‘:

Chris and Rachel Stephens, a couple in their 20s whose home was spared, cooked a batch of apple pancakes and headed to a heavily damaged Tuscaloosa neighborhood. They hung a sign — “Free hope pancakes for all!” — figuring a little comfort food might take people’s minds off the emotional toll.

In a time of loss and panic, a couple remembers that tornado victims need more than the basics. They need to be loved, and they need to be comforted.

Photo by Erik S. Lesser

How better to comfort each other than with thoughtful food?

When disaster strikes, we find ourselves scrambling to meet basic needs:  clothing, toiletries, shelter, food, water. When I picture having most of my personal items destroyed, and living in someone else’s space temporarily, borrowing clothes and transportation and relying on other people for food and water, I picture myself wading through various states of shock and disbelief and anxiety.

Forget about farmers markets and backyard herbs and meals from scratch. Get used to canned goods, dried foods, bottles of water and whatever else has been graciously donated from the depths of someone else’s pantry. Right?

I’m sure we can do more.

If you’re not already familiar, Greg Brown of Greenleaf Farms has had quite a year: a heart condition deterred him from tending his land this past winter. Admirable local networks (including Crop Mob Atlanta and Georgia Organics) worked to raise money to help defray his medical costs and enable him to keep his farm in good working order.

Exactly one week ago, I was delighted to see Greg and his wife, Maeda, at Decatur farmers market, their booth boasting a load of gorgeous produce and flowers. With easy going, sincere and friendly demeanors,  the Browns worked the market as if  the past few months had consisted of a straight, paved road instead of one riddled with precarious potholes.

Greg and his Greenleaf Farms bounty

I traded them a jar of cheese for some gorgeous produce – chard, carrots and a giant beet that Maeda promised me would not be woody. Greg explained: beets with hard, thick stems in the middle will have a woody texture and less taste. The beets without such stems are delicious despite their mammoth size.

The market was suprisingly busy for a day when the clouds were especially ominous and the wind was incredibly strong.  Stormy skies loomed above vendors as we packed up and began to digest the severity of weather reports for the night.

Fortunately for Atlanta, the metro area was spared the havoc of the worst tornadoes to hit in 100 years.

Unfortunately for the Browns, their greenhouse was not spared. The tornado decimated it.

How can we help local, sustainable role models in times of need?

How can we help people in north Georgia, in Alabama, and in other hard-hit areas of tornado tragedy?

Grace’s Goodness will be donating one dollar of every jar sold in May to the Browns. We also will be accepting donations at the farmers market. These donations will go directly to a food fund. This summer, the fund will be utilized to turn local ingredients into homemade nutrition bars for tornado victims.

Click here to donate to Greenleaf Farms. Visit Greg and Maeda at Decatur farmers market today between 4 and 7pm and buy something delectable from these resilient people!

Due to a large catering event, GG will not appear at the Decatur farmers market today. Look for us on Saturday!

Next post: english pea soup with lemongrass cream