Community

Tuberville is interested in the ways in which community has an impact on hunger and the issues that surround hunger within those communities.

As with any question in need of a good answer, we figured the first step might be to try and understand how people view these issues. Below are some thoughts from a few folks that have passed through Tuberville over the years. Some still visit from time to time and others seem to randomly drop us a note when they come across something in their travels that reminds them of what we do.

Jeanne Nauheimer, Newsletter Editor and Writer

Tim Carroll, Tuberville Director and Filmmaker

Justine Modica, Admissions Officer, Dartmouth College

How did you get involved with Tuberville?
Being the diligent student that I am, I was checking my email one sunny summer day and came across one looking for a creative writer - for a potato farm!? It seemed too good to be true; finally I had the opportunity to let two of my passions, writing and root vegetables, mash-I mean mesh-together!

What is the most fun/interesting job you've ever had?
Being goofy, making potato puns and getting to interview myself is obviously one of the best jobs in the world, but I've thoroughly enjoyed student teaching in my hometown. There's something about being a twenty something in a room full of adolescents while they learn about meiosis for the first time that sticks with you.

If there was one issue surrounding hunger that you think is important for people to address, what would it be?
One of the reasons I was so attracted to working for Tuberville is the responsibility it takes to fight hunger in our area. We constantly hear about the heartbreak of families in impoverished countries who are starving, but we seldom take the time to look around our own area and see our many neighbors in great need. Hunger is not a problem exclusively overseas or out of state. It is very present and very real. We need to work together to open the eyes of our neighbors and to help those in need. Tuberville asks for a donation of under $25 and the benefits are felt throughout our entire community. Together, we can work not only to decrease hunger in our area, but increase knowledge.

Why are you involved with Tuberville?
There is no them, we are all us. I've had that sign on the wall of my office for seventeen years now. It's how I would like to see the world behave. And I've always believed that the best way to lead was to lead by example. I think that's what Tuberville and my buddy Ralph Perkins is all about. Showing how we can get involved and help each other out. Not preaching it from a soap box, but getting out there and showing folks how it can be done.

What is the most fun/interesting job you've ever had?
That's easy. I used to work at the Muppet Workshop in New York City for Jim Henson Productions. To have the opportunity to entertain and educate children, can't think of a better way to spend your life. And it certainly didn't hurt working with some of the zaniest, sweetest, and most kind hearted individuals I've ever had the pleasure to have known.

If there was one issue surrounding hunger that you think is important for people to address, what would it be?
Not having enough food for yourself and your family can happen to anyone. And with the economy going the way it is, it will be happening to more and more folks.
A friend of mine is from India. The first time I met him we were on our way to lunch with mutual friends. It just so happened that he hadn't brought any food with him so I gave him half of what I had. He was very touched by this and told me that in India it was tradition to share food as a sign of caring for those you are with. That has always stuck with me, the link between caring for our fellow human beings and sharing our food.

Mike Abbott, Tuberville Production Manager, Musician, and Farmer

How did you get involved with Tuberville?
I knew Ralph from my days as a grad student in VT and through our common involvement in the music business (or lack thereof, in my case so far - hah). Ralph told me about his Tuberville idea and I wanted to participate so I offered to grow some here in Maine. We found some places to bring the potatoes (The Good Shepherd Food Bank, etc.) and we were rolling.

What is the most fun/interesting job you've ever had?
The best job I've ever had was baling hay, for my father at his farm in Alna and for other farms in the area. It is still my favorite type of work, along with cutting wood and working in the gardens. I've had a lot of other jobs too (engineering, construction, research) but they pale in comparison...

If there was one issue surrounding hunger that you think is important for people to address, what would it be?
We can't rely on centralized, commerical farms to feed the world. That system does not work. Bring farms back to the community and there will be plenty of food to go around.

Jeannie Perkins, Special Ed., CSD

How did you get involved with Tuberville?
I was looking to get involved with a project that made a difference in other people's lives. I first met Ralph at the school where I work as a speech and language assistant. At that time I never knew I'd be pulling weeds and digging potatoes. A couple years later, we met again through a mutual friend from Pasadena, CA. By the end of that year, I had seen more potatoes than one could eat in a lifetime.

What is the most fun/interesting job you've ever had?
The job I am currently at allows me to work with kindergarten, first and second graders. Working with students in this age range, I never know what I will encounter in a day. No two days are ever the same. The uniqueness of each student makes every day challenging and interesting.

If there was one issue surrounding hunger that you think is important for people to address, what would it be?
For some, the cost of groceries and feeding a family is no small matter. There are families within our community that do choose *between* food and fuel during the winter months. There is no simple solution to changing this dilemma. I think the best way to approach the problem is to look for solutions as a community. At school, the State assists some families through the reduced and free breakfast/lunch program. This is one excellent resource, but the issue needs to be addressed at the community and neighborhood levels as well.

Jacqui Smith, Tuberville Gleaner

How did you get involved with Tuberville?
My husband Troy started building a barn to be used by Tuberville in November of 2007, This past summer, Tuberville was in need of someone to help pick squash. My first son, Hickory, was just getting old enough to spend a little time outside and I thought it would be good to do something outdoors, so I offered to help.

What is the most fun/interesting job you've ever had?
I had a tattoo studio in Maine for a while. I met a lot of really down to earth people there, both working for me and folks coming in the front door. I remember one time there was a guy who was kind of shy named Noah. A really good artist, but kind of shy. One day three women came in to the shop. They were probably all in their early 70's. The three women were in to get their first tattoos. Noah had to shave one of the ladies legs before starting the tattoo. While he was in the middle of the process, she said out loud, "I haven't been touched like that for a very long time..." Needless to say, it took a very long time for Noah to regain his composure. It is moments like that where we interact with each other without pretense that seem most important and enjoyable.

If there was one issue surrounding hunger that you think is important for people to address, what would it be?
Addressing issues close to home is important, but equally as important is remembering the staggering impact of hunger globally. Although there are a few organizations in place that try to divert food that has been prepared and is destined for the trash (like Project Angel Food or Rock & Wrap it Up), philosophically, we in the United States, generally do not treat food as the precious commodity that it is.

Chris Rocheleau

How long have you lived near Tuberville?
I have lived right next to Tuberville my whole life, but I just recently learned of this organization. Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger? Right now with the economy like it is I feel that it's important that there is food available for everyone out there. Times are tough and every little bit helps.

Becky Laubenstein, Educator, UMS

How did you wind up planting potatoes for Tuberville?
I work with this wonderful lady named Jeannie Perkins and I thought supporting this cause would be both beneficial to me and all those receiving a good meal thanks to Tuberville.

What is the most fun/interesting experience you've ever had?
I'd have to say I feel privileged to have been able to study for a semester in New Zealand and while there I went skydiving, which was the most exhilarating moment in my life.

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
That it's real and a serious and scary world issue that needs to be thought about on a global level. Thinking about it on a smaller, more personally relevant level is a great start, where you can help those in need in your own community. "Think Global. Act Local."

Ellen Baier, Author

How did you wind up volunteering at Tuberville?
It's all Ralph's fault, with his innocent face and casual e-mails and sneaky, sneaky ways. I used to work with him, and so seeing an e-mail come in from him always makes my day - when the e-mail is asking a favor, it's really hard to say no. Hours of hard labor in the hot sun? Sure, why not!

What is the most fun/interesting experience you've ever had?
I plead the fifth, Your Honor.

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
It's everywhere. For a long time, I didn't quite get it that there were people in America that were hungry - I thought it was a third-world problem. But one in eight - one in EIGHT - people in the US don't know for sure where their next meal is coming from, and a lot of those are kids.

Kaitlin Doucette, Tuberville's #1 Volunteer: 2009

How did you wind up volunteering at Tuberville?
My mom told me all about it at the beginning of last summer. I had been having some trouble finding a job and I was interested in volunteering locally. As soon as I heard about Tuberville I was hooked. I had never gardened before and really wanted to get my hands dirty. I am so glad that I was able to become a part of the Tuberville experience. It was a rewarding opportunity.

What is the most fun/interesting experience you've ever had?
When I was 16, I went to Australia and New Zealand. It was an amazing experience! I am still talking about it now as a junior at Boston University. While there, I saw kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies, went to the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland, NZ, and even went bungee jumping (though I'm terrified of heights)! It's a great place to visit. I hope to go back at least once more in my life.

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
I think that people should develop a greater appreciation for food. While working at Tuberville, I came to appreciate all of the hard work that goes into making even a single potato. If we change our attitude towards food, maybe we can positively effect world hunger.

Kelley Ouellette, Web Designer (aka: Artist, Detective & Mechanic)

How did you wind up at Tuberville?
I had just graduated from SMC and moved to Colorado in search of a job. I came across an e-mail regarding Tuberville and the need for a new website. At that time I was still in the job searching process and had lots of time and skills to donate towards a good cause. I had grown up in Vermont and I believe giving back is important. I will always support Tuberville because I love what it's all about!

What is the most fun/interesting experience you've ever had?
Aww..this is tough. I will have to choose the Holidays! Maybe I am slightly homesick and excited for the upcoming holidays and my return to Vermont - but I miss my family and I can't wait to eat amazing homemade food and spend time in Vermont. My family is crazy and definitely keeps things interesting. Returning home keeps me grounded in my busy life and always reminds me what's most important in life. I will always cherish the memories that are created each year -- have I mentioned how excited I am it's almost Thanksgiving?!

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
I think the biggest mistake people make is not recognizing what they have. Each day I am grateful for all of the good in my life and I strive to fix any of the bad. Part of appreciating what you have is realizing there are many people who have much less and are far worse off. This is why giving back and doing your part is essential. Be grateful that you can afford food and try to change the situation for someone else who is less fortunate. Giving back not only benefits people in need but also can help enrich one's own life by providing purpose and meaning. It's such an important part of life and not helping out is unfortunate for everyone.

How did you wind up at Tuberville?
I had just graduated from college and needed a job. This guy named Ralph was willing to take a chance on my farming skills and hired me to cultivate potatoes.

What is the most fun/interesting experience you've ever had?
Right now I live in a house with 14 people, 13 ducks, 1 python, and a fireproof dog. Every day is a fun and interesting experience.

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
That having a job doesn't necessarily mean a person is able to adequately feed his or her family. A lot of the hunger that goes unseen and unaddressed is that of working people who don't make a livable wage.

Jeff Ohler

How did you wind up at Tuberville?
The path to Tuberville started many years ago when we moved back to Vermont. We were at our new house and waiting for the moving van to arrive. Hours later with no moving van in site we went searching for a phone. It was mid-week so few folks were home and cell phones didn't exist. This is how we met Jean. She was home and she let us use her phone. Jean, my wife Kathy and I soon became good friends. Jean then met Ralph and we soon became good friends with him. That was very easy to do. Ralph just happens to be the proprietor of the Tuberville plot, and thus it began.

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
Simply that I think it's more pervasive than anybody thinks.

Pam & Tom Isham

How did you wind up at Tuberville?
Pam
: I've been lucky to have known/worked with Jeannie for about 10 years now. She put up a flyer at work inviting her co-workers to help plant potatoes explaining that the food was going to be donated to the food shelf. I've always planned on helping Jeannie out with whatever she needed, giving to the food shelf was an extra incentive, as it such a great service!
Tom: I heard about Tuberville from my wife Pam and thought it sounded like a great idea: Local people growing food for local people.

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
Pam
: Hunger does exist, and it is even in our own community. Food prices continue to rise as shortages increase. Many that have never experienced hunger before now are. We may see these people on the street, at the doctor's office, on the bus. They are old, young, working and non-working people. Some have health problems because of it. The point is, Hunger is Real and we can all help, just by doing a little. It is good to learn how to grow and cultivate food for our own families and for those in need, instead of relying on outside sources or other people to help the needy. Americans are extremely wasteful when it comes to food. It's good for younger ones to learn what sorts of manpower goes into growing various foods so that there can be more of an appreciation of it now and possibly in the future.
Tom: I feel that hunger will always be with us and it doesn't have to be. We need to recognize the need and do our part to fill it. We need to know where our food comes from and be aware of how much we waste.

Jen Prince (author of Tuberville’s email drama: Voices)

How did you wind up at Tuberville?
My husband works with Ralph, aka Mr. Tuberville.

What is the most fun/interesting experience you've ever had?
That is a tough one: I'm a photographer, beekeeper, lifelong gardener, and native Vermonter. I keep my hives on an organic diversified farm (not far from Tuberville) and spend time among the family and interns that operate that farm. I definitely pay attention to the activities and relationships there and spend time talking to a lot of other local farmers and 'food activists' about current issues around growing food and tackling hunger. These interests and observations all play into the Voices project. I'm also a fairly confident writer - but in my own voice! Writing fictional characters is completely new. My biggest fear is to come off like Kevin Costner - always the same voice and personality no matter the role.

Some people think that we look at issues differently at different points in our lives. At this point in your life, what do you think people need to recognize about hunger?
Ideally, members of a community offer one another support and kindness. I really think that food and 'food security' (a community's ability to feed itself) can be the backbone of a community and determine its strength. I know that here in Vermont we are starting to explore the concept of Food Hubs - geographically placed centers for storing, processing and selling food under the brand of each community; an awareness of these concepts seems like a great place to start in understanding these issues.