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From the Ground Up Farms, one of our 2016 grantees, found itself vulnerable and exposed, as it sat in the path of the deadly Camp Fire that blazed through Northern California last November. Created by Jenny Lowrey, From the Ground Up includes 17 nonprofit community gardens across the Chico area. These gardens, located at homeless shelters, residential treatment facilities, and women’s shelters, have become a vital piece of the community, providing fresh food and educational opportunities to families and individuals in need.

As the fire spread, destroying 95 percent of the area, Jenny was forced to evacuate. Her daughter, Aindrea, remained trapped by the fire, until she managed to escape to a house near one of the community gardens. Using power from the garden’s solar panels and batteries, she soaked the ground surrounding her vehicle with a hose, then secured it to the roof of her car with a rock. Aindrea climbed inside her car and put on a respirator. Against all odds, the solar panels and batteries held strong, continuing to pump water onto her vehicle as the fire burned over and around her.

Amazingly, that garden plot, which was funded by a 2016 FruitGuys Community Fund grant, wasn’t fully destroyed. Over the following two days, Aindrea survived on its remaining produce, as she waited to be reunited with her mom.

Jenny is already hard at work rebuilding the From the Ground Up garden, undeterred by the devastating setback. “This was already an impoverished area of Butte County and a complete food desert. Our goal is to get this large, centrally-located community garden repaired, rebuilt, and replanted ASAP, so we can again have free food available to folks who need it now more than ever,” notes Jenny.

In light of this tragedy and Jenny’s tireless work to better her community, The FruitGuys will provide From the Ground Up Farms with a $5,000 grant to help them get back up and running as soon as possible—a gift of appreciation and support in addition to our annual grant cycle.

If you’d like to support Jenny’s incredible work, please consider donating to support the rebuild. We look forward to watching this necessary regrowth unfold over the coming months.

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