Joy Livermore believes in teaching by example, and strives to do at least one kind act a day. This year, she has donated more than 300 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables to local food banks around Lycoming County, which she has grown herself in a dedicated plot near her home in Old Lycoming Township.
This spring, Livermore found herself staring at an empty plot near her home on Janet Avenue. Floodwaters had damaged a home that used to sit on the land and workers had torn the structure down. The barren plot had potential, Livermore realized.
"It was just sitting there not doing anyone any good. So I decided to do something with it and try to help people," Livermore said.
Joy Livermore, of Williamsport, works in her garden near her home. All of the food she raises in the garden is donated to a local food bank.
In early May, Livermore received permission from the township to install a 100- by 150-foot garden bed in the vacant lot. She dug up the soil and planted hundreds of vegetable plants, many of which were donated by Fischer's Greenhouse on Matthew Boulevard in South Williamsport.
"They heard what I was doing and wanted to help out. They easily donated more than 300 plants," Livermore said.
All of the fruits and vegetables produced from the garden have gone to local food pantries. To date, she estimates she has given almost 300 pounds of organic produce to those in need.
Next year, Livermore has even bigger plans. She is hoping to expand the plot another 100 feet in length before next spring's planting season.
As to her gardening history, Livermore said she was "born in a garden," at least that's what her parents told her.
"I've been gardening all my life. My daddy told me he found me underneath a cabbage leaf," Livermore said.
Livermore said she is inspired to keep growing to help others and to provide a good example for her children, grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
"We believe if the kids take a bath and there's not a ring of dirt around the tub afterwards, then they're not healthy," Livermore said, as she watched her great-grandchild dig in the garden bed.
"He is the real reason I do this," she continued, gesturing toward the 4-year-old.
"You can't teach giving by lecture. You have to teach by example," she added.
Livermore's charity efforts extend far beyond the garden. She also crochets lap blankets for local ecumenical patients. This year alone, she has handcrafted 96 of them.
"I like to bring my grandchildren and great grandchildren with me when I go and let them hand out the blankets," Livermore said.
She believes it is good to create a culture of giving, rather than taking.
"You can't raise kids to just be 'me-me-me.' You got to show them how to give," she said.