Share Your Summer Bounty
by Judi Gerber
As I have written here before, one of the ways that gardeners can make a difference is to share their excess produce with those in need, while getting rid of those crops that they might have too much of, like zucchini or tomatoes.
Not only will you be helping to fight hunger, but you will be helping your garden. How so? Too many mature fruit will make the plant stop producing, so you want to make sure to harvest so you can extend your harvest season.
If you want to donate excess produce, you can do so through Ample Harvest. They have created a campaign to get home gardeners to donate their excess harvest to local food pantries. As the organization states on its website, “One out of six Americans (including a quarter of all kids under six) does not have access to healthy fresh food at their food pantry. The AmpleHarvest.org Campaign is a national effort utilizing the Internet that enables 40+ million Americans who grow food in home gardens to easily donate their excess harvest to one of 3,485 registered local food pantries spread across all 50 states.”
You can find these registered food pantries in your area simply by typing in your zip code. I was surprised to find about 20 within 15 miles of my zip code. There is even a special page for gardeners with tips on what kinds of produce are best to give to those in need, when to pick them in order to donate them, and other frequently asked questions. They even have smart phone apps on their site.
Another site that features maps showing food pantries is Feeding America. Here too, you can find food pantries in your area simply by typing in your zip code.
If you don’t have your own garden, or if you want to do something different for your summer vacation, you can volunteer with organizations that donate fresh produce by gleaning excess or unwanted produce. Traditionally, gleaning is collecting “leftover” crops from farmers’ fields after they have already been harvested. After harvest, there is an abundance of high quality, marketable produce left in the fields that cannot be harvested economically or does not meet commercial standards.