The Wyoming Hunger Initiative team recently had the opportunity to catch up with Nancy Schiffer, a retired librarian, master gardener, and Kaycee rancher to chat about her small-scale, big-hearted project to raise money and awareness for Wyoming Hunger Initiative this past spring.
Every year, Nancy raises 1000+ plants in her basement—petunias, salvia, gallardia, dyanthus (Sweet William), and tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. "I actually give many of them away every year to friends, then plant the rest in my garden." Her garden: a huge operation on her ranch, located above the Powder River. Because her well water isn't good for her garden, she pumps river water to keep it growing and healthy each year. "I've had 50 years to figure this out. If I can grow this many tomatoes here in Kaycee, anyone can," she said with a laugh.
When the regular "plant and flower lady" took the year off from selling at the Kaycee General Store this year, Nancy got to thinking that maybe she could connect all her plants to awareness for food insecurity somehow. Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies operates mobile food pantries in Johnson County, so she knew hunger was a persistent challenge; the community of Kaycee might be marginally aware, but she set out to increase that awareness by approaching the General Store to set up the sale. She planned to provide a matching grant to the Kaycee Community Foundation after the sale was complete. She priced her plants fairly, saving people miles of driving to purchase high-quality, hardy flowers and tomatoes in the process.
When all was said and done, Nancy's plant sale raised $366 for Wyoming Hunger Initiative— impressive for a town of less than 300 residents! Her message to anyone who wants to help: "Find your niche. Make it personal, something you can do—and then connect it to a project that can raise money or awareness." We think this is fantastic advice! We have seen over and over in the past year that hunger is a problem that can be solved, together. From $5 indiviual contributions to tens of thousands of dollars from large corporations, we know that everyone can play a part in reducing food insecurity over time in Wyoming. Paired with a little innovative thinking and a lot of generosity, those projects can have a significant impact in local communities. Thanks to Nancy and her generosity (as well as all the people who benefitted from her green thumb!) Wyoming Hunger Initiative can continue to raise money to provide infrastructure grants to anti-hunger nonprofit organizations statewide.