Towards the end of the growing season (October in Pacific NW), start visiting local stores and writing letters to seed companies asking for donations of last year’s seed. It helps to include your Employer Identification Number (EIN) in your letter to prove your organization’s non-profit status and to allow the donor to deduct donations from their taxes..
Thurston County Food Bank distributed thousands of plant starts during spring and early summer of 2011. Other TCFB programs like the school garden project have plant starts grown for them, but the gleaning program received excess donations from growers. Use this opportunity to introduce yourself to potential donors..
To access plant sales as a gleaning resource, first contact the people organizing the plant sale and offer your program as an option for any fruit or vegetable plants that might be left over after the sale. Master Gardener plant sales are great because they grow high quality plants and have a diversity of species and varieties..
During the 2012 growing season, the gleaning program in Yakima re-packed and distributed an estimated 730 lbs. of seeds to food banks, meal programs, community gardens, and community partners. Volunteers re-packed donated 40-50 lb. bags of seed into half envelope seed packets..
If planning to grow starts for a food bank first check in with the managers to see what the interest level is for the food bank receiving the plants. Will the plants be given out to clients on a normal food distribution day? Are they being received to plant in a food bank garden?
A new type of “gleaning” has been emerging in the WSU Extension Program. Because of the local abundance of gardeners and farmers, calls have been coming in from donors offering extra vegetable and fruit plant starts. The food banks have expressed a desire in handing these out to their clients in order to pique an interest in local foods..
There are several community gardens in northeast Washington. The two largest are in Colville and Kettle Falls, which are both towns with very active food pantries open four days a week. The community garden in Colville is owned and operated by a local church. This year they saw a continuing decrease in the number of individuals renting gardening plots..
The Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) program encourages community members to dedicate a row (or more) of fruit, vegetables and/or herbs in their garden to help feed those in need. PAR was spearheaded by Jeff Lowenfels, a garden writer for the Anchorage Daily News and former Garden Writers Association (GWA) president. The idea was implemented as a national program by the GWA soon after..
There are many home gardeners in the greater Moses Lake area and asking them to help feed their neighbors was easier after receiving seed donations. A few letters to seed companies yielded 220 pounds of garden seeds from across the nation. Two-thirds of these seeds were distributed to food bank clients..
The space and inputs barrier can be lowered through the creation of a community garden where the cost of land and inputs can be spread across all participants. Time and motivation can become huge barriers in the height of the summer, but can be overcome by connecting your volunteer/donor with the recipients of their hard work and other ways of acknowledging their hard work..