Eating. And thanking a farmer.

By Jean Blish Siers *

Here’s a sobering fact: If it weren’t for farmers, most of us would starve. As much as my husband and I love to garden with our raised beds, our compost bins, and rain barrels, we would be dead. We’d either die of starvation, or kill each other fighting over our monster crop of three blueberries. So when you see those “No Farms No Food” bumper stickers, take them very, very seriously.

When I first started working with Society of St. Andrew, I felt a little guilty asking our wonderful farmers for tips on the best time to plant my second crop of okra, or how to start a sweet potato, or what was the best way to lime a tomato plant. After all, the more my garden succeeded, the less I would buy from the farmers’ stands after a gleaning. But they were so kind, giving me advice, and even tomato plants or seeds, or a variety of squash they thought would grow well for me.

My sad potato harvest - 2015

My sad potato harvest – 2015

These smart men and women obviously knew they had little to fear! Last year, I planted three large pots with seed potatoes. I hilled them, watered them, and tended them. At season’s end, they rewarded me with about ten pounds of delicious, creamy new potatoes. Not bad for a beginner.

This year, my harvest totaled four scrawny spuds, smaller than the chunks I’d planted as seeds. So I had to laugh when I stopped at Barbee Farms and bought a few potatoes the other day. Check out the pictures (penny added for perspective in the first photo; potatoes on same plate in second photo!) and you’ll see why I need my famers!

Barbee Farms potatoes

Barbee Farms potatoes – on the same plate as mine, above

This has been a tough year for farmers in North Carolina. Lots of baking heat, little rain, and constantly shifting market prices make it hard for them to make a living. Still, as my garden withered, here in the Charlotte area we gleaned more than 50,000 pounds of corn. We have gleaned grapes, tomatoes, and watermelons. We have filled many stomachs with our farmers’ wisdom and we are very grateful for each and every one of them!

So as the other bumper sticker says, “If you’ve eaten today, thank a farmer.” I know I do!

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.



In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.