Jack Clausnitzer, co-owner of , doesn't think he did anything special by arranging a 10-year land lease to build a community garden on the property next to his company.
But that 10-year lease costs only $1 per year. And that garden — along with other community gardens in Livingston County — brought in more than 11,000 pounds of food to Gleaners Food Bank to be distributed to families in need. With one pound of food equating one meal, that's more than 11,000 meals to which the Brighton Community Garden contributed.
According to the Livingston County Hunger Council, there are 10,000 people in the county who live in poverty, and almost 24,000 people can be described as being “food insecure."
"He is very modest, very private, and very humble," Simmons said of Clausnitzer. "My gut feeling is he is doing this because he has the land just sitting there, and this costs him very little to give back this way. And it is just what you do to take care of your community."
Today, Clausnitzer is being recognized as the Huffington Post's Greatest Person of the Day. He is just one of many amazing people who have made a difference in their communities.
Clausnitzer immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1953. He said he first got involved with the Livingston County Hunger Council when he attended a meeting with his wife.
"We were infected by the enthusiasm," Clausnitzer said. "The idea of having a community garden has been attractive to me for some time. I have thought many times we should have something like that here for our employees, but I never dared to tackle that because I foresaw too many complexities."
Now, with the garden on company property, Clausnitzer gets his wish. Brighton NC Machine employees can reserve areas of the garden but then must contribute two hours a week to working there as well.
Brighton NC Machines owns 19 acres of land where the company building sits at 7300 Whitmore Lake Rd. Currently, the Brighton Community Garden uses a little less than two acres of land. Clausnitzer said he is not opposed to using more of his land to expand the garden if those two acres fill up.
"We are living in an area in the world where we have very good soil," he said. "We have water available, and our climate lets us grow very good food. And we have a bunch of hungry people. If the soil is not used, we're a bunch of idiots."
Not only does Brighton NC Machine lease the land for the Brighton Community Garden, but it also pays the water bill. Simmons said they couldn't be successful without the help.
"We couldn't do it without them," Simmons said. "They pay for all of the water; we bought the irrigation supplies, but they pay for the water. And we could not do it without irrigation, especially this year with how hot and dry it's been.
"The thing is, with Livingston County, there's lots of land," Simmons said. "It's not like you're in Detroit. It's a partnership with Brighton NC that has made it so invaluable. They support us in so many different ways. They're big partners with Gleaners as well, and he (Clausnitzer) is committed to doing what needs to be done."