Farmfront Board Member

Jenny Schweigert

Stepping out of what we once considered normal has forced much of society to reflect on life. An entire article could be dedicated to all of the different aspects. In the back of my mind, I replay all of the instances of people stating we need to go back to the way food was produced 50 years ago. The countless ways our food and grocery supply chain has changed over the past three months is where today’s thoughts will be concentrated.



I often recount the day our schools closed and the state of Illinois was on lockdown. Rumors of toilet paper shortages were already overtaking the breaking news for nearly a week. Although immunosuppressed, I was skeptical about the true dangers of COVID. However, we had staples that needed purchasing so I headed to our nearest grocery store. There I was, standing in aisle 14 stunned and barely processing the sight of the empty toilet paper and paper towel shelving. An unexpected pang of panic hit me. Surely, this is a fluke and will be resolved in the next couple of days. Three months later, I’m still awaiting my toilet paper and paper towel orders from Amazon. 


Outside hunting for paper products, like many, including Farmfront board member Stevi Stewart, we began a garden. If not to feed ourselves, to share the wealth in what is becoming a food insecure world. No Kid Hungry recently released a new study that shows post-COVID, one in four children are food insecure. We hope that at a minimum, we’ll be able to offer our food pantry sweet corn to distribute.



Another benefit we hope to harvest from the garden are ways to keep our kids’ minds moving. According to All About Learning Press, preventing or in the spirit of 2020, reducing the normal “summer slide,” a decline in reading ability and other academic skills, can be as easy as enjoying a new hobby – such as gardening.


It’s not too late to begin a small garden or a project called “Adopt a Plant.”  We recommend a small space or using containers. Your local stores should still have plants such as tomatoes, peppers, or cabbage. Empowerment and engagement are the names of this game. Providing responsibility of the plant or plants initiates ownership in the project, not to mention the act of caring for a living organism. 


How do we keep kids engaged with the project? Set an expectation for your child(ren) of journaling on a daily basis. This can be done using paper and pen or computer. If your family tends to be artsy, the journal can be done purely through drawings/art or bullet journaling. It’s a nice way to get their creative juices flowing.


In a time where the appreciation of our food supply is unprecedented, we are all reeling from the perfect storm. Among crises, there is always opportunity. We have the drive to teach our children about a necessity of life, food production, while empowering them to be problem solvers. 



Our goal is to teach and provide you with helpful information around farming, food, fuel and fiber production. We also want to learn from you! Are there gardening or farm to school projects you’ve tried? Would you be willing to provide your experience? It’s often we learn more from you than what we can teach.


For farm to school resources, check these out that were compiled by Farmfront. 




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