Garden Share Program
GROW A ROW
Grow a Row is an international initiative that works to get backyard gardeners involved in donating freshly grown produce directly to their local food bank. We encouraged local gardeners to participate in the Grow a Row program as it has participants only commit a single row or container plant to be donated to the food bank. This has brought in fresh produce such as tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, kale, onions, beets, and other produce that was distributed directly to partner agencies and participants on our Agency and Feeding Families Pantry. This program was implemented by the first VISTA and continued with the next two which saw increasingly more participation and donations from local gardeners.
COMMUNITY GARDEN DONATIONS
Community Food Share encourages volunteers and community members to grow and harvest produce for donation. There is an abundance of produce grown every year by volunteer-run, backyard, and community gardens. Often the people growing don’t always know what to do with their excess produce.
The second VISTA established a relationship with a community member that donated the entirety of her backyard to let Community Food Share utilize for the growing seasons, which was continued by the third VISTA. There the VISTA’s hosted individual volunteers and corporate groups as well as an educational session with a group of elementary school children. The VISTAs planted crops such as tomatoes, peppers, beets, corn, green beans, pumpkins, kale and much more.
The third VISTA built onto the network of community gardens in the area that donate produce to Community Food Share, and one, the Blue Sage Community Garden, donated 8 garden beds for Community Food Share to utilize throughout the season where he planted tomatoes, peppers, greens, herbs, radishes, beets, green beans, chard, and other sought after produce. The Goss-Grove Garden made weekly donations after he had met with one of the garden managers and toured their community garden space.
After the growing season each year, Community Food Share receives donations of seeds from local stores and packers. These seeds are organized and saved for the spring when they are offered to our partner, Earth’s Table, as well as other volunteers. Local home gardeners are encouraged to plant extra from the free seeds offered to them for donation. Presentations at local community gardens were also offered to inform garden members of the capacity of food banks and pantries to receive fresh produce. Giving more information to the gardeners about the ability to donate fresh produce helps in the summer when they find themselves with an extra harvest.
The third VISTA used the seeds that were donated this past season for seed giveaways to participants in cooperation with the Colorado Master Gardeners. They helped to provide printed materials, translated in Spanish and English, as well as on-site expertise when families that came to pick up seeds had questions. This was also used in conjunction with the Tool and Seedling Giveaway organized by the third VISTA, where families were able to pick out a donated tool and pick amongst a variety of donated seedlings and seeds.
Earth’s Table is a partner non-profit of Community Food Share. Back in 1999, the group of volunteers who still run the gardens today started with one mission: to grow food for hungry people. We encourage volunteers who find themselves without a garden of their own to help out with Earth’s Table in one of their 6 gardens around Boulder. These gardens are located on private land that was generously donated to the Earth’s Table group to use. Produce from these garden sites is donated to Community Food Share and two other partner agencies in the Boulder area. The first-year VISTA worked diligently to get Earth’s Table more organized and secure more recurring groups of volunteers to assist in their gardens as they now have more gardens than before. The combination of more volunteer support, as well as more gardens sites, allowed for the 2017 growing season to be their most successful yet. In 2019 Earth’s Table gained official 501 (c) (3) non-profit and was largely able to manage and account for their own volunteers, but we still worked together on coordinating large corporate groups and Community Food Share staff gardening and gleaning events.