Alabama Man Feeds the Homeless by Teaching Them to Grow Their Own Food

Written by Stephen Messenger

Life can seem hopeless for folks on the margins of society, struggling to make do in these tough economic times. But even in the dark pit of poverty, where rays of hope shine their dimmest, there’s often still light enough for a new life to take hold. With that in mind, one man in Alabama is giving his city’s homeless community a helping hand — one with a green thumb.

All too often, those most in need are the hardest to see and easiest to overlook. But when Rusty Loiselle learned that homeless camps were springing up along wooded roadsides in his native Huntsville, it was something he couldn’t ignore.

Perhaps taking a page from the “you can teach a man to fish” adage, Rusty chose not to merely fill their stomachs for a day by offering food, instead deciding to donate his time teaching them how to grow their own. So, he soon filled his truck with saplings and gardening tools to help those less fortunate establish their own vegetable gardens.

“I didn’t even realize that we had homeless, but now I know there’s way too many of them, and I’m trying to do something,” says Rusty.

“Some of the healthier stuff for them, rather than having to go to the store and pay prices that they really can’t afford. I plan on being out here as much as possible to help them keep their bellies full and keep them warm.”

While the vegetable gardens will certainly provide some fresh food for folks who need it most, Rusty hopes that the newfound sense of empowerment and psychological sustenance grown there will feed them for a lifetime.

And as those plants have taken root in the checkered sunlight along the unseen edges of town — so too has a bit of hope.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.



Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Kay M.
.4 years ago

Thank you Stephen for the article,and thanks to Rusty for being so generous as to take his time, and tools to start a community garden for the homeless in Alabama. That state really needs a source of good food, they rank on the bottom of the list for healthy citizens, just like us here in Louisiana, After Katrina, some people tried to start community gardens in the poor areas, because we had no groceries available. Where houses were torn down and never rebuilt civic groups bought the land and donated it to the schools for the kids to learn to grow the fruits and veggies needed. It was a great program, and thank goodness it spread to other partrs of town. We now have quite a few and on Saturday we have coop farmer's markets to sell what the people can not use for themselves. I loved reading all of the over 200 comments and discussions, from the care 2 members. Keep up the good work .

Holly M.
Holly M4 years ago

Great idea! I love the concept of things like this, including community gardens. Caring for plants and cooking the fresh produce (or even making salads) are also skills that can get these people jobs and back on their feet. People who feel they have a purpose and are busy are also more likely to keep both mentally and physically healthy too. Good going, Rusty Loiselle!

Sheri D.
Sheri D4 years ago


April W.
April W4 years ago

What a great inspiration to all! This man truly has a heart of gold.

Chris P.
Chris P4 years ago

Thank you. I also do help, although our government says they must. When. Is it just talk for another vote?

Justin M.
Justin M4 years ago

Thanks. Anything like this is worth a shot.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

That's the most effective help

Deb L.
Deb L4 years ago

Excellent work on this man's part for bringing a great idea to life! If our cities' Government would underwrite & promote these efforts it would go a long way to improve the life of the less fortunate. Even the average hourly paid worker might want to engage and contribute time to reap in the bounty of some glorious homegrown fresh fruits & Veggies. I know I would!

Activist Inspireharmony

"Art From the Streets" is an award-winning, feature-length documentary about an unique art program for the homeless. Run entirely by volunteers, this program provides art supplies and a space for homeless people to create art. During a weekend every November, the art is sold, and the proceeds go to the artist. This documentary follows five of the artists over the course of a year. Viewers will visit homeless camps, learn the daily struggles of street life, and witness the strengths of the human character. Through their participation in this remarkable program, we see first hand how the lives are changed for all involved.