Fresh produce and a fresh perspective

August 12, 2021 Brad Perkins

SIMOS recruiter Susan Yoakam volunteers at the community garden in Findlay, Ohio, helping harvest produce for families in need

SIMOS Cares aims to benefit the communities SIMOS works and lives in. But for Susan Yoakam, a recruiter in Findlay, Ohio, it had the added benefit of helping her heal, too.

“The month of August is a very difficult month for me emotionally,” Yoakam said. “In August 2013, I lost my mom very unexpectedly. It wasn’t something I was prepared for, nor am I still each year it comes along. The month of August, from that moment on, has been my month of self-reflection, rejuvenation and growth. It is a month that I dread, but is also a time that I give myself to heal. When I lost my mom that August, my family and I had her last harvest to gather from her garden. Her garden was something she was very proud of and worked on diligently all throughout the summer. It was vast and abundant and provided our family with fresh vegetables all throughout the year. Through her I have found a passion for gardening and reaping a harvest.”

When she heard about the SIMOS Cares program, she knew she wanted to volunteer, but didn’t know where. And one day, while working with SIMOS in Findlay, she came across the Community Gardens of Hancock County, a collaboration between the United Way of Hancock County and other state and local organizations that aims to “educate and equip individuals to be food secure and to work in harmony with their neighbor.” The group stresses the health benefits of a community garden, both in terms of producing nutritious food and promoting exercise.

Yoakam felt she was destined to work with the garden and was thrilled to find a group that not only helped her community but that was a cause she believed in. She contacted the Master Gardner Volunteer Program based at the Ohio State University Extension and worked with them to help harvest the community garden on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, the latter on her way to talk to prospective associates.

“While assisting the Master Gardeners of Hancock County with their harvest, I have been able to continue my tradition of closing out a garden while being close to someone that inspired me to grow and be a better person,” she said.”

With her help harvesting 107 pounds of tomatoes, peppers and squash, the Master Gardeners have harvested and donated 1325 pounds of fresh vegetables to the Hancock County community.

“I truly look forward to continuing to assist The Master Gardeners with their harvest,” Yoakam said. “I really believe in Gertrude Jekyll’s description of a garden as a ‘grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.’

About the Author

Writer. Photographer. Runner. World traveler. Sports fan. Proud left-hander.

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