Kit Torchia, Wiley Osborn, Gordon Lenci, Nancy Smith, Jay Smith and Patty Buck
Ann Quackenbush taking the count on seeds packed for the day.
Byron Kennedy taking blood donations on the Big Red Bus parked in the church's lot on seed packing day.
Sue Wertman passes the winning raffle ticket to her sister.
Carole McLaughlin wins the first raffle and gets the first pick of prizes.
Brent Piersma and Beverly Sutton fill seed packets for Hope Seeds.
Carol Cornwell wins a deviled egg platter.
John and Missie Kaull, Carol Cornwell, Barbara and Tim Lissett
Pat Bergman and Joyce Fox
Margaret Chirgwin and Steve Bergman
Gordon Lenci takes a break to grab a cookie.
Members of Christ Church spend two hours a month packing vegetable-plant seeds into plastic bags to send across the globe. They also chat, eat cookies and win raffle prizes. It’s a social occasion and a small task, but one that makes a worldwide impact.
The seeds packed on Longboat Key have traveled to more than 60 countries, either impoverished or were struck by disaster. Haiti qualifies under both conditions; they’ve received the most seeds to date.
“We’ve been doing this since 2016, and we’ve done a total of 175,000 of these packets,” organizer Ann Quackenbush said. “We’re doing something good, plus it’s a good camaraderie for the church, and people get to know each other.”
Quackenbush started the seed circle after coming across Hope Seeds in Bradenton at a church Christmas bazaar. She went back to join in on one of that congregation’s seed sessions and quickly got her own congregation packing.
Quackenbush says she does the “schlepping” to get the seeds from their Bradenton office because Hope Seeds is a small operation with three staff members. Yet, they’ve distributed 10+ million packets of seeds worldwide, a feat that couldn’t be accomplished without the help of congregations and missionaries.
Gospel messages are delivered with each packet, so is education and training. The mission takes feeding the hungry a step further and teaches hungry people how to feed themselves. Not all seeds are created equal according to the climate, so seeds are selected for each region.
Families receiving seeds are fed for a full year with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Any overage of crops can be sold at local markets to provide extra income too.
The group was packing tiny black onion seeds by the half a teaspoon, but they’ve also packed broccoli, carrots, potatoes and green peppers. They’re provided with the most needed seeds at the time. About 5,000 packets are filled per session.
Lesley Dwyer is the community reporter for Longboat Key and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.