Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Finding A Good Home for All That Zucchini

When I was in college the local food co-op hit a point each summer when they resorted to a hand-written sign posted on the door: “Please! No more zucchini!” in response to the avalanche of give-away produce that overwhelmed local gardeners left outside the store. Now there’s a better solution. The always lovely PBJ shared a link to a cool story on the My Hero Project (which BTW is a great feel-good site) about Langdon, NH, food pantry director Mary Lou Huffling urging local gardeners not only to donate surplus but also to plant a little extra for the Fall Mountain Foodshelf. Happily, this idea is gaining popularity around the country.

When I hear “food pantry” I typically think “canned food.” But, spurred on by programs like Plant A Row for the Hungry, my quick hop around the web indicated the produce donation trend is growing. The Connecticut Food Bank offers a helpful info page with examples of the best kinds of produce to grow for these projects. In Seattle, a local school garden has been donating part of their delicious bounty, as well as serving as a central drop-off spot and organizing food bank runs. In eastern Wisconsin, residents can participate in the 2008 Harvest for the Hungry and find local drop-off sites (although I couldn’t find anything for South Central WI). With rising gas and food prices, many food banks are experiencing increased demand, yet another reason that gardeners and food banks are teaming up everywhere from Hawaii to Houston. Jane Avery, director of the Northeast Indiana Community Harvest Food Bank sums it up: these programs help the hungry and also offer practical help to gardeners for “the produce they usually struggle to pawn off on co-workers.”

Today’s mitzvah: Not a gardener? Consider a cash or non-perishable donation to the local food pantry. You can locate yours at America’s Second Harvest.

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