Local farmers help people flourish by overcoming financial barriers
Jardin de Milagros owners Jerry and Susie Hobson say giving back has become their lives work.
That’s why their working farm is so important, come rain or shine.
"We started growing fresh vegetables and it’s kinda just taken off," says Jerry.
"Year after year we’ve been growing bigger and bigger."
This New Mexico Farm started feeding the hungry in 2010.
Jerry says they’ve been fortunate in their business and saved a few nickels.
"We had time and land and resources to devote to it so that’s kinda what we do," says Jerry, adding, "It's the right thing to do."
The Kelly Memorial Food Pantry receives most of their donated produce.
Recently, up to 100,000 pounds of food has been donated in a year, compared to 12,000 pounds their first year.
Susie Hobson says, "This year we had a lot of honeydew melons, all kinds of peppers."
Jerry says that they grow 20 to 30 varieties.
But this monsoon season has ruined some crops.
"When it’s humid, the powdery mildew fungus will transmit very easily and it winds up hurting the plants a lot and will kill them," says Jerry.
But that Hobsons say that that won't stop them from fulfilling their obligation to the hungry.
Jerry says, "We can’t control mother nature, we do the best we can and we did replant some."
The Hobsons have extended resources off the farm to help families better their financial situations long term.
They started a program a little over a year ago to help families help themselves with their Fresh Start Program.
Jerry says, "The purpose of that is to try to get people to where they don’t need to go get food from a food pantry, that they can improve their situation in life."
Fresh Start hooks them up with agencies that can provide specific services.
"If they need housing we try to help them find housing," Jerry continues,"If they need employment, we try to help them understand what they need to do to overcome the barriers to finding that job."
The program provides case managers who work with the members of the program The Hobsons are concerned that those needing food from the pantry are worrying about how they’re going to eat for the next two days.
Fresh Start starts a conversation about what needs to be done for the next six months.
The program, authorized and granted by the El Paso Del Norte Health Foundation, is seeking very special clients for this program. Jerry says, "We do something called motivational interview. We try to ascertain whether the individuals who we’re visiting with have the motivation to really want to make a change."
The Hobsons want them to plan for a more financially secure future.
The couple says it's gratifying to see families moving forward and overcoming these barriers.
The Kelly Memorial Food Pantry is in the process of recruiting people into the program.
For more information on the Fresh Start Program, call Kathy Coronado at the Kelly Memorial Food Pantry at (915) 261-7499.