The Seed Lady
Thu, 04/13/2023 - 4:45pm admin
Sue Neitzel, featured writer
If it takes a village to raise children, it takes a community to feed them. That is the mission Tender Ramsey feels she has been called to do. For this West Plains native who grew up in the Hoco area, the highest point in Howell County, Tender has been sharing seeds for those in need or who simply want to grow their own food.
For the last 12 years, Tender has been in charge of the local seed swap-and-share, but she wanted to take it further to reach more. Her knowledge comes from her granny who always had a garden and was always willing to answer questions or teach her how to weed or harvest. An avid gardener in her own right, saving seeds from her own garden was a good start but she had bigger plans in mind.
Tender started buying seeds from the dollar stores or from feed stores that allowed her to buy in bulk. Once the word was out, Tender was sharing seeds with low-income families, homeschool groups, and the Amish community. Recently, she visited a homeschool group in Alton and gave them 100 packs of seeds.
"The look on those little faces when I handed them their own packs of seeds was priceless," said Tender. Not only is she giving out seeds, but she is growing future gardeners and promoting families to grow sustainable food.
There is more to Tender than just gardening, and she was gracefully open with me. For as long as she can remember, she's always battled anxiety, but the struggle was compounded by abuse. She was later diagnosed with Complex PTSD. This stress-related mental disorder robs people of their independence, interaction with others, and much more, each case being different.
For Tender, it meant being homebound for decades, and not driving for 18 years. She was living the life of a hermit, but it was her supportive husband and children that she credits with saving her.
As she got more involved with the seed sharing, little by little she was blooming again with self-confidence. She is making up for lost time now by tending to her own garden, foraging wild plants for remedies, and nature walks. Tender plans to continue sharing seeds with anyone interested and noted that the West Plains Public library has a seed bank also. She hopes to offer classes one day and is active with a couple of online garden groups. She will also gladly accept donations of seeds. You can contact her on her Facebook group: West Plains Seed and Plant Swap
She may still have her "off" days, but Tender Ramsey is a survivor and fighter, but is best known as the seed lady.