After a vital community project was jeopardized because of COVID-19, Belmond-Klemme FFA Chapter’s co-president Emma Carlson rolled up her sleeves and put her leadership skills to work to find a solution.
The Belmond-Klemme Community School District’s community garden has “always been a blessing” for the Iowa community, Carlson said. But when the district had to transition to online classes because of the pandemic, she — along with her classmates — feared the project might be disrupted. But it was only a matter of days until Carlson found her answer: garden starter kits the community can tend to while they’re at home.
“I knew this was something that was really important to the community,” Carlson said. “And now we can bring the community together to keep it healthy.”
Traditionally, the Belmond-Klemme FFA Chapter helps with starting the seeds in the classroom and later transfers the plants to the garden. But without students in the building, Carlson knew that wouldn’t be possible this year. The chapter partnered with a local business to create the kits, which include seeds, soil and other garden tools. Students then helped deliver the kits to anyone who volunteered to help with the project. Eventually, the crops are to be transplanted into the garden at school.
Debbie Barkela, the chapter’s advisor, said the produce would be available in a blessing box once it is available.
“Watching this community continue to give back when the community is in need itself, that spreads hope for everyone,” Barkela said.
The chapter is also involved with Growing Hope Globally, a program that works with farmers across the country to plant, harvest and sell crops while raising awareness and funding global food security programs.
Lauren Crawford, the chapter’s vice president, has been leading that project — including growing the crops on her family farm.
“It really helps us make those important connections with the community,” Crawford said. “It’s important to have that, especially in a rural community where agriculture is so important, and so many people depend on it.”
Barkela said it has been inspiring to watch her students continue to find ways to serve, even when times get hard.
“FFA is the perfect opportunity to gain those service-learning experiences,” Barkela said. “I know this is helping to shape them into future leaders who take care of those around them.”
To learn more about how FFA members are living to serve in their communities, visit FFA.org.
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