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Wind River Grow Our Own 307 produces sustainable food for Fremont County-Co-founder receives Wyoming Women of Influence Award

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 12:13 AM CDT
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FREMONT COUNTY , Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

Stress and anxiety have been an issue for people as a result of Covid-19, and the lack of available products at the grocery stores hasn’t helped. Gardening has been a way for some people in Fremont County to cope with both of those problems at once.

When grocery store shelves weren’t stocked this spring, this group of people saw it as a call to action, and made wooden pallets and repurposed tires into garden boxes for the people of Fremont County to grow their own food.

“When I was cooking, I would send one of the girls out and say, ‘can you go get us some tomatoes, or get some peppers.’ It was different, it was awesome to be able to get your vegetables right outside,” noted Vernalyn Bearing, recipient of a garden box from Wind River Grow Our Own 307.

Bearing admitted she hadn’t done much gardening before the program started this spring, but once she had her own successful garden with help from the nonprofit organization, she said it was really nice not having to go to the grocery store as much for produce. Through learning to garden, she was also able to cope with her loss.

“Finding a different connection I guess you could say with my father, who had passed away in January. He planted all kinds of things, he was a green thumb,” noted Bearing. She said she thought about him a lot while she gardened, and that it was very peaceful. She also mentioned that she enjoyed the extra time spent outside with her daughters.

Wind River Grow Our Own 307 is a brand new nonprofit program that started at the beginning of the pandemic. The executive director was inspired by the need for food sovereignty not only on the reservation, but in all of Fremont County.

Executive director Darrah Perez-Good Voice Elk and Deneica Barrett were the co-founders of the movement. Perez-Good Voice Elk stated, “As a co-founder we both put our ideas together and we went to Zoom. We utilized the social media sites as well as the Zoom application to develop some teaching courses so that first time gardeners and experienced gardeners could come together to teach each other how to plant and grow food.”

The program can also teach people the health benefits of producing their own food. “Food is medicine, just like water is medicine. We eat food, and the food that we eat, sometimes we don’t know what kind of vitamins or nutrients in there could help combat diseases like cancer and diabetes,” noted Perez-Good Voice Elk.

Barrett, co-founder of the program, was also given a special award for her efforts and connection to the program. The Wyoming Women of Influence Nonprofit Award was given to this Fremont county resident in a virtual presentation, and was honored for her food sovereignty efforts as co-founder of ‘Wind River Grow Our Own 307′.

Barrett said she was shocked at first and so thankful to be recognized because the project included ample long days. “Toward the end of the growing season, we felt good, we felt accomplished just knowing that we were able to get out there and help everyone. When the award came, the first thing Darrah did was call me that morning, and we sat on the phone crying. It was a feeling that I can’t put into words,” stated Barrett.

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