In the midst of my current investigations as I have been presenting them in recent posts I want to pause to mention an inspiring person I met – although I don’t remember his name.
I encountered him selling vegetables yesterday at our local Saturday market in the park —
Word of mouth spreads news fast and comprehensively in an area like ours — “Vegetables, a whole grocery bag full of as many as you can fit in there for five bucks.”
Yep! True true…..
There I was yesterday at the market stuffing my selection of peppers (many varieties to choose from), summer squash, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes into my bag when I entered a conversation with the man who has put this whole ‘feed the people’ plan of action into – well – ACTION!
All that I know is that this fellow is a biker. He is a part of a new church that he and his friends have put together called the
The church is nondenominational and meets presently in the bikers’ repair shop. (Why does the website say it’s a church for men? I’ll ask next time I’m at the market.) A nonprofit was needed so that grants can be written to subsidize this ambitious and very creative ‘feed the people’ venture — which began……
This man’s story began as all our stories do long before he was born. But by the time Vegetable Man (VM) was born the main-stage MEAN player, his father, was in full motion. VM told me he was taken home from the hospital with bruises on his face from being hit by his not-so-dear dad.
VM simply stated to me, as his hands continued to busily pick less-than-fresh vegetables out of boxes he had on tables to throw them into a large blue plastic garbage can behind him, that his father beat him often and mercilessly until when he was 13 his mother took him and ran far far far away from Alabama to Bisbee, Arizona.
VM, now 42, told me he got out of prison after years of rough, hard living in 1996 — as a changed man. He is drug and alcohol free. VM searched to find something he could do to help make the world a better place and came up with his ‘feeding plan’.
He knew that many vegetables that reach our local (and other) Safeway stores find their way into dumpsters because they have reached their expiration date. He set out to find a way to access those vegetables that were headed to dumpsterville BEFORE they got there.
VM now has a large refrigerated truck that he drives every Wednesday to Nogales to pick up vegetables that are sent from Mexico toward Safeway stores – but are now being sorted there for absolute store-quality freshness. VM takes the rest and then spends his week handling vegetables as he drives around a route he has developed that includes a stop at Bisbee’s Farmers’ Market.
The $5 per bag charge for the food goes toward the cost of trucking the food. VM plans to get grants to improve his warehouses and their cooling systems, and to cover costs of the cooling in our hot summer months.
VM is friendly and is the most cheerful and positive person I have met in a long, long time. He shines. That he has suffered, struggled, survived and beat nearly insurmountable odds to find ways to thrive and to meaningfully contribute to others is a part of the many stories that he freely shares along with his generous vegetable offerings.
I now have a full pot of delicious vegetable soup simmering away in my crock pot on this gray windy day thanks to VM. I feel honored to have met him and look forward to seeing him again.
Now that it’s daylight I am off to feed my chickens some of the discarded vegetables VM gave to me yesterday. Nothing is being wasted!