Trade in stamps for seeds and starter plants

A bit of soil and some seeds, and you can feed your family in a SNAP.

When I was 21 and pregnant with my first child, my happy-go-lucky lifestyle was to change. The reality that I was now responsible for meeting more than my own selfish needs grew along with the child inside me. I had to meet the needs of the child I was to have. The reality of not having health insurance and making ends meet on two minimum wage jobs now became a worrisome burden.

Not really able to change jobs, my husband and I changed our thinking instead. We decided to start a garden to help feed ourselves and our child. We knew nothing about it. We just knew that we had to try. We borrowed some books and talked to family members and borrowed a rototiller to cut in our first garden on our little half lot in town. Tomatoes were planted next to roses. Herbs replaced annuals. We discovered lettuce was quite happy to grow in that shady, damp place between ours and our neighbor’s garage.

We also learned that you could buy seeds and starter plants with food stamps (this was in 1982). The federal food stamp program, now SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), has allowed the purchase of seeds and starter food plants since 1973. If you are among the almost 45.8 millions of Americans that receive SNAP assistance, you can purchase seeds and plants to grow a garden any place you can find soil and space, even in community gardens. Any container that can hold enough soil to keep a mature plant healthy can be used to grow a garden – those top over tomatoes have an 18-inch container to accommodate the mature roots, but who says Grandpa’s old rubber boot won’t work as well? Or that old toddler wading pool that now has a hole in it? Give it a try.

For more information about how you can grow a garden or about SNAP gardening, contact your county Michigan State University Extension office, or visit these websites:

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