My grandfather, Dr. Ralph Cummings, was a farmer from Reidsville, North Carolina. He graduated first in his class at Reidsville High School in 1928. Growing up, he was my grandfather of course, but I always knew he was known for his contribution to the Green Revolution that fed millions of people worldwide. He made the connection between what some North Carolina farmers were facing with what developing countries were up against. He had a vision.
He went from Raleigh, North Carolina to Peru and then developed a system that made it possible to grow crops during the monsoon season while working with the Rockefeller Foundation in India. My grandfather “arranged the first import of high-yielding wheat varieties (developed by his colleague, Dr. Norman Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for that contribution) which transformed India’s agriculture.” Perspectives The year I was born, he returned to NC State as a professor before heading the international crop research institutes in the Philippines and India. ICRISAT My grandfather received the International Agricultural Service Award from the American Society of Agronomy and the 1988 Presidential End Hunger Award from USAID.
I always wanted to do what he did. I was not sure how, but I wanted to use my knowledge or strengths to change lives. I do not have a green thumb as much as he tried to share his back yard garden expertise. However, even the smallest of acts make a difference. At Durham Academy, we are fortunate to be able to spend time giving back to our community. Yesterday we traveled almost an hour to a field in Fuquay Varina to glean sweet potatoes. The students were told that this practice is thousands of years old. Food was left behind for those who perhaps needed it most. Much of what we see in grocery stores has to be a perfect size or shape. Food is food.
Student gleaning sweet potato left behind from the harvest
We spent almost two hours searching for delicious sweet potatoes that would be trucked to several local churches and a food bank in Durham, NC. One potato, the size of the one pictured above, can feed two people. It takes a team of dedicated volunteers and community members to make this happen. We are grateful to the Society of St. Andrew for creating this opportunity for young and old to give back. http://endhunger.org/ I am not leading an institute like my grandfather, but I am modeling what learning and giving back can do for not only yourself but your neighbor and the world ~ one decision and one person at a time. What will you decide to do with your time and talent today?
This sort of community service is so meaningful. It helps feed people who often must go without food. It allows your students to learn how to give through hard work and compassion. The lessons taught go well beyond the single day each of them became a gleaner. You’ve taught them the concept of what gleaning means now and has meant in the past. You are a wonderful teacher, dear Patti Donnelly.