Neighboring Sustaining

They’re “Little,” “Free” And Pack A Big Impact

It’s so beautiful to see people helping people. No ulterior motives, no expectations, and nothing wanted other than to lend a hand to those who may be in need. I love seeing these ingenious things pop up everywhere. Read on.

The Food is Free Project

I’ve watched this movement spread rather quickly. The Food is Free Project started out in Austin, TX with one 4 ft. by 4 ft garden bed planted in 2012. One small garden has become a worldwide movement with over 350 Food is Free Projects all over the globe.

It’s all about growing and sharing food freely. People are connecting with neighbors and planting gardens together for the community. Some folks set up tables to share their bounty, while others have open gardens in their yard or in a community location. If you conduct a search using the hashtags #foodisfree or #foodisfreeproject, you’ll find lots of results for your further research.

The Little Free Library

The Little Free Library is a non-profit organization founded in 2012. Their mission is to be a catalyst for their community, inspire readers, and expand the access of books through an incredible global network of volunteer-led, Little Free Libraries.

The organization is based in Hudson, Wisconsin. Still, the movement, like a book, is full of various chapters all throughout the globe. Little Free Libraries offer free access to books 24/7 for those who would like to read them. The movement is designed to set up more libraries in high-need areas.

There are over 100-thousand Little Free Libraries in over 100 countries. Somewhere around 40-million books are shared every year, which is great news in the face of many libraries losing funding and having to close.

The Little Free Pantry

Jessica McClard planted the first Little Free Pantry in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A simple wooden box, mounted on a post and filled with food, was set up in May 2016. However, you can also find personal care items and paper items inside the Little Free Pantry.

A month after the first mini pantry was set up, the Blessing Box was planted in Ardmore, Oklahoma, by CrystalRock Cathedral Women’s Ministries. By August of 2016, the movement was global.

The Little Free Pantry is not a non-profit, nor is it an organization. It’s a way for communities to work together to help solve the issue of food insecurity that affects so many people.

Free Stores

The free store movement started long before the ones listed above. We’ll have to take a trip back to the ‘60s to San Francisco because that’s when and where it all began. The concept is to have people rethink the way they shop and spend money. So many people want to throw out the old and bring in the new, which is fine. However, having a place you can take what no longer serves you so that someone else can make use of it is smart on several levels: people get what they need, and landfills are spared.

The principle behind the “free” phenomenon? Take what you need and leave what you don’t or can. Ultimately, there’s enough to go around if we find innovative ways to help our neighbors.

-Elaina Garcia

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


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Elaina Garcia is a published writer in various niches. She has been studying and practicing plant medicine and natural healing for 15 years now. A New York native living far from her old home, she lives a sustainable lifestyle in her tiny home! Her writing career began a little over 4 years ago starting at the bottom and working her way up. Elaina is the author of children's educational books and a content creator with work on various sites

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