Wendy Irwin is the Director of Strategy and Development for Yellow Tractor – a national non-for-profit advocating for sustainable growth by building vegetable and fruit gardens; clearing a path for food security, providing opportunities for healthier life skills, and creating a safe place for children and adults to grow not only food, but themselves.
AE: Filled up or fed up?
AE: Where would you like to start?
WI: Let’s start with filled up. Here at Yellow Tractor we are filled up with hope. In terms of having a sustainable, long-lasting impact, we have a feasible plan. We can see it working. We are partnering with schools and other major institutions to show how easy it is to grow your own fruits and vegetables.
AE: How easy?
WI: Basically you need access to water and 8 hours of sunlight. We have put a lot of thought and research into eliminating the barriers to do-it-yourself farming. We know that the whole thing has to be as low-maintenance as possible to be successful…to have people adopt it for the long-term.
AE: And is it working?
WI: The findings are encouraging. We have everyone from kids to seniors growing their own food. The yield from these gardens is abundant, giving way to healthier food options. It’s giving communities a sense of purpose and connectedness while aiding in beautification. And we have seen over and over that if kids plant and grow their own fruits and vegetables, they will eat them.
AE: That fills me up!
WI: Yes, it’s our dream to see gardens everywhere; that you could walk every hundred feet or so and see people growing their own food.
AE: So what are you fed up with?
WI: Well, it’s really where our passion came from. We saw a lot of discussion and big ideas with very little actionable items. We were fed up with so many people talking the talk, and not walking the walk. It’s a basic human right to have access to good, decent food. And the U.S. is considered the land of opportunity, so no one here should be hungry or malnourished. So at Yellow Tractor we thought it was time to get to work!
AE: Where do we start?
WI: I think education is key…and it starts early. Yellow Tractor boils down to empowerment. It’s that whole adage of “give a man a fish”. We want to help people grow their own food and eat well. And it’s going to take cooperation. I think it’s ludicrous to think we can do this without the big food corporations. Just think about the power and reach they have, and how fast they can push out a message. Imagine if we could leverage them to get the message out about better eating. In the end, I think we need to meet in the middle to really make a difference.