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Jacqui’s Garden: Fighting Hunger with Garden-Fresh Veggies

Jacqui’s Garden: Fighting Hunger with Garden-Fresh Veggies
January 10, 2018 Food Pantry GardenVolunteers

In January, the very coldest part of winter, it’s hard to think of a time when the sun will shine and new plants will grow—including garden veggies. But that’s a time Jacqui Sakowski, a retired small business owner, looks forward to all year round.

Jacqui relishes spending her summers growing vegetables in a fenced off quarter acre of a beautiful field in the driftless region of WI, 25 miles west of Middleton. Jacqui never expected to fall in love with gardening. Marriage brought her from England to rural Iowa twenty years ago—with no background or interest in gardening. “Surrounded by vegetables gardeners who found joy in their fields, I decided to follow their example and give gardening a try,” Jacqui explained recently in her talk with Wisconsin Life.  

What might be most unique about Jacqui’s gardening is what she does with what it produces: Jacqui donates it to local food pantries. She realized that many of the people food pantries serve are children: in fact, 48% of those served at MOM are children. She also knew that impacts of hunger could last a lifetime for these children, causing health issues and limiting their futures.

Jacqui saw the need—and she saw what she could do to help. “These children deserve more than my leftovers,” Jacqui said in her interview with Wisconsin Life. “I already shared spare produce with area food pantries. But with retirement, my new mission was to grow vegetables specifically for them.”

This past fall, Jacqui once again reaped a significant harvest from her months of work and devotion. “I suspect it’s a sign of immaturity that every fall I stand in childlike wonder before my vegetable garden’s abundance. That a tiny, 20-ounce stack of seed packets produces more than 2000 pounds of vegetables is amazing to me year after year!”

Those pounds of vegetables makes a tremendous impact in our community. Often food pantries struggle to keep shelves stocked with fresh vegetables that are so important to a healthy diet. Now, thanks to Jacqui’s garden, children throughout Middleton and West Madison who would normally not have access to this type of food get to spend their summers enjoying the splendor of garden fresh tomatoes, beans, corn, squash, eggplants, celery, melons and more. We at MOM are grateful that she chooses to share the bulk of her considerable harvest with people visiting our facility.

In our next few posts, Jacqui shares with us some glimpses into her gardening journal this past summer. Read Jacqui's journal entries here and here

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