Young Green Thumb Grows Food for the Needy

At 10 years old, this young gardener wanted to grow fruits and vegetables locally. Four years later, he’s supplying 200 needy families with fresh produce.

By Julian Kesner from Reader's Digest
Young Green Thumb Grows Food for the NeedyCourtesy Matthew Adams

Our hero: Austen Pearce, 14

Where he lives: Maricopa, Arizona

How he helps: Grows food for needy families

Austen Pearce learned to garden on a small patch of ground in his backyard. At age ten, he started volunteering an a food bank and was savvy enough to notice that the produce being sold was often past its prime. Wouldn’t it make more sense, he thought, to grow fruits and vegetables locally? Now, four years later, he’s supplying 200 needy families with fresh produce.

Pearce lobbied his city for a community garden, and within months, a farmer had donated an acre of land and valuable irrigation. A master gardener helped Pearce plan his plots. From March to July, Pearce and other volunteers tend tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, and other crops; they harvested more than 7,000 pounds of donated produce within the first year alone. “I would love to see such gardens in more cities,” says Pearce. “Why stop in Arizona?”

Know a local hero? Visit American Towns to submit your nomination: americantowns.com/powerofone.

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