By CHRIS JAEHNIG, The Daily Mining Gazette (Houghton)
HANCOCK, Mich. (AP) – Dr. Michelle Seguin of the Portage Health Foundation has teamed up with other like-minded health food enthusiasts to share that love with the community by forming a group called Growing From the Heart.
“In 2020, just at the start of the pandemic, we developed a program that is sort of inspired by the national program called Plant a Row for the Hungry, which encourages people to literally plant an extra row in their garden to make a donation to pantries. ” said Séguin.
Growing From the Heart began as a mission to donate home-grown produce to those in need during the pandemic, reports The Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton.
“Instead of just focusing on pantries during the pandemic, because we knew a lot of people wanted food and needed food during that time, we wanted to promote what was already happening, which is giving and share with our neighbors, ”explained Séguin. “We also reached out to the pantries to see if they would accept the fresh produce, then facilitate that and encourage people like, ‘Hey, I have 60 pounds of zucchini. What do I do with it? ‘ instead of doing a ding-dong and dropping stuff off, which is great, you can drop it off at Little Brothers on the third Monday of the month, in Calumet at the Free Store on Wednesdays. We made that kind of relationship easier.
As the pandemic appears to be halting, Growing From the Heart has taken on a more social aspect.
“Then we started to find out that we really enjoyed spending time together, so we definitely did all of these different things like blacksmith walks and fermentation workshops. We just had a potluck last week. We just like to share our knowledge, ”Seguin said.
Growing From the Heart is a grassroots group that encourages participation from anyone who wants to improve their cooking game.
“It’s really cool because there is very little money associated with the group in general, and no limiters. Everyone can contribute an idea, what they want to do. Someone said the other day they wanted to do a homemade jam workshop last month, and then they sort of organized it. We introduced ourselves and spent time together, ”Seguin explained.
“It’s really about fostering those kinds of relationships,” said Rachel Koskinen, another member.
Growing From the Heart teaches that new ways of producing food yourself don’t have to be scary.
“This kind of skill sharing makes things that seem a little scary like scrambling or searching for mushrooms a lot more accessible and doable. There are over 20 kinds of edible mushrooms in Houghton County, and we can share the right ones with each other, ”Koskinen added.
As well as being useful to the community and a chance to socialize with other foodies, Growing From the Heart is an informational asset.
“We are really looking to improve access to nutritious local foods. On top of that, we need to try to expand educational opportunities, so once people are able to buy some really wonderful local food, how can people cook it and store it for them? can eat them, share them with their families and things like that, so we hope to be able to offer more outreach education opportunities than we are able to muster, ”Seguin explained.
The types of projects and events available for Growing From the Heart at any given time are subject to the season and weather conditions.
“We develop our plans as things happen or the elements allow. We haven’t been able to go for mushrooms lately because it was very dry, “said Seguin,” but oh my God the berries will be ready soon, so we’re going to get together and make a bunch of jam on. next month. “
Recently, at Porvoo Park in Hancock, Growing From the Heart hosted a fermentation workshop.
“One of our members, Ivan, came up with the idea last month. This time around we have an almost entirely different team than the one that showed up at Fermentation Store 101 last month. This time we are dealing with more specific recipes that are already in our community, so we just took it to another level, ”Seguin said.
Dr Seguin said fermentation was a great workshop because “it’s a delicious way to keep food safe, and a very healthy way.”
“This (fermenting vegetables) has been going on for thousands of years, so it’s also a way to tap into your own family histories and heritage,” Koskinen said.
Growing From the Heart is often accompanied by a local dietitian, Meghan Jaszczak, who has a cooking video series called Biblio Bistro, which is available online at the Portage Lake District Library website, in which she’s partners with PLDL program coordinator Michael Stanitis, who is also a cook. The cooking series is available at pldl.org/bibliobistro. The show features many locally sourced ingredients.
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