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..
Plant starts and seed donations are a great way to get more fresh veggies into the hands of the folks who need them. This simultaneously empowers people and provides an opportunity for giving back – it is the gift that keeps giving!