Agriculture For Kids Community Orgs

BERRY GENEROUS: Effort Connects Kids, Fresh Food, and Feeding the Less Fortunate

local grandpa starts produce picking and donation program

Kelly Carlson |

THE PICK OF THE PATCH. The Picking Promises program is aimed at harvesting fresh produce that is then donated to groups that feed the hungry in the Chippewa Valley. (Submitted photo)
THE PICK OF THE PATCH. The Picking Promises program is aimed at harvesting fresh produce that is then donated to groups that feed the hungry in the Chippewa Valley. (Submitted photo)

How can you combat inflation, food insecurity, and the decline in Wisconsin family farms all at once? Make it family friendly, and you land yourself at Picking Promises: the one-stop-shop for doing good. 

Currently, there is a very deep disconnect between people and the food they eat. Asking questions like, “Where does this come from?” and “How does this grow?” bring us to a better recognition of the agricultural scene. Too often, we forget the people behind the growing of our favorite foods, and that disconnect is hurting everyone. 

The more people involved in this process the better … the more we can help people.

NORM JOSEPH

FOUNDER, PICKING PROMISES

Enter Norm Joseph, a local man with a huge dream and an idea to connect it all. Getting his kids (Amy, Brian, and Jennifer) and grandkids involved, Norm went to work creating a program that encouraged individuals and families to go to farms nearby, pick and purchase the freshest, juiciest seasonal produce, and then donate it to charities that need more fresh food to give to those who don’t have enough to eat. Soon, Picking Promises was born. 

“I’ve always wanted to help the less fortunate, it’s been kind of a family mark,” Norm emphasized. Norm grew up with generosity to everyone as a cornerstone value, often providing meals for strangers who couldn’t afford to eat anywhere else. “We like to give back to the community and feel grateful for what we have, too,” he said. 

Picking Promises debuted in connection with 4H through his family’s involvement. A group set out to explore Little Berry Farm to pick berries with kids as young as 6. There, the group met with the owner of the farm, got a tour of the land, learned a little history and a few agricultural practices, and got to work picking berries – sometimes helping the farmers weed as well. After picking, they set up a time to donate the food to Feed My People Food Bank, the Community Table, or other local charities. 

 

And the best part about it: it’s just so simple. “It was so easy, and it was so fun, and it was five minutes away,” Jennifer said. “We had plenty to donate with stomachs full of blueberries.”

After their second trip – this one to Connell’s Family Orchard – the group noted the challenges each farmer faces every growing season: varying from weather to pests and water to labor shortages, it’s harder and harder to produce great food, get it out to the public, and profit.  

Picking Promises calls for the community to go to local farms; ask about their sustainability practices and their struggles; pick and buy their own produce; communicate with charities to get the best, freshest food to the less fortunate; and reconnect with the earth and the community. Just make sure to call ahead and confirm the farm and the charity’s hours for easy picking and donations. 

“The more people involved in this process the better… the more we can help people,” Norm emphasized. 

Picking Promises will have excursions out to different farms throughout each growing season, so get ready for fall squash, apples, corn, and more. Their next trip is this upcoming Wednesday, Aug. 10, at Foster Blueberry Farms from 5:30-7:30pm, picking up the rest and the best of the blueberry season. And on Saturday, Aug. 13, they’ll be at Blueberry Ridge Orchard in Eleva at 10am.


Visit pickingpromises.com for more information on the cause and current events.