Thursday, September 8 was UWSL’s Day of Caring in which 3,300 volunteers from over 100 companies donated their time to participate in 145 community projects in Salt Lake and Davis Counties. Tiffany Jesperson, Coordinator for the Davis Community Learning Center (CLC) at Wasatch Elementary in Clearfield, hosted Day of Caring projects at Wasatch Elementary and at two community gardens the school helps maintain.
One of the gardens is located next to the Davis CLC and a second, larger community garden is a few blocks away and is run in partnership with Clearfield City. My husband and I (I’m the Community Collaborations Director for the Davis CLC), along with employees from Kelloggs, volunteered to weed and cultivate the soil in the larger garden. Tiffany and Zadok Budd, the Volunteer Coordinator, were there to greet us when we arrived and direct us to our projects.
The first thing I noticed upon arrival was the impressive amount and variety of produce – lots of lush tomatoes, colorful squash, golden potatoes, red peppers, crisp cabbage, and delicious looking artichokes – and all this to be shared by people in the community who might otherwise go without fresh produce. Zadok shared an experience he had a few days prior when he was distributing produce: After receiving produce from the gardens, I drove over to State Street (in Clearfield) and set up a stand on the side of the road. I used some folding tables from my home and some signs painted on poster board. The signs said “FREE PRODUCE.”
For the first 10 minutes, as I waved at passing cars, the only person who stopped was an older gentleman walking by on his way home from the grocery store. He was obviously financially less fortunate. He put a modest amount of produce in his shopping bag and expressed great appreciation. He said that he would call some of his friends who were in need when he arrived home. Soon, many people started showing up who were also very grateful for the food. As those speeding by saw people gathered around the free produce stand, they also started to pull into the parking lot and get some produce as well and then things really started hopping when people called family and friends on cell phones – many more came with great enthusiasm to pick up some of the great produce. One person asked me many questions about our community gardens and said that he would love to be a part of it next season. I took his phone number and promised to call him.
This experience of distributing produce to people in need was one of the best experiences I have had in a long time – they seemed to truly and deeply appreciate the food! I went home energized and extremely happy from giving all this produce away!!
Zadok Budd, Volunteer Coordinator