Hankering to garden but don’t have the green space? Stuck with too many zucchinis every summer? Garden for good with these tips on how to work with hunger-relief organizations.
We consulted our newest crop of Duluth Women models who put our garden clothes to the test in Portland, Oregon for our Spring Garden catalog. They know a thing or two (or three) about growing fresh produce for their communities and are eager to pay it forward.
Support your local farmer – Sara, Farm Manager, Zenger Farm
Zenger Farm is a working urban farm that offers a variety of ways for Portland residents to get involved with hunger relief. Farm Manager Sara explains, “We believe everyone deserves to have the skills, resources and relationships needed to nourish themselves and their families.”
- Support local farmers whenever you can, whether by forming a relationship with just one local farm or shopping weekly at your farmers’ market.
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for fresh veggies every week. Many farmers offer a food assistance program that you can contribute to with a cash donation to help those in need.
- Volunteers who prefer mud under their nails can sign up for farm work. Zenger Farm hosts Farm Friday Work Parties to help with tasks such as weeding, mulching, turning compost or tending livestock. Some CSAs offer a “work share” to exchange a share of veggies for your efforts.
- Zenger Farm also actively seeks out skilled cooks, workshop facilitators or even shopping and food prep assistance for community classes, such as “Healthy Eating on a Budget,” that help empower families to access and prepare fresh food.
Roll up your sleeves and get dirty – Shara, Farm Manager, Green Table Cooperative
Green Table Cooperative’s mission says it all. “We work together on an urban lot to grow food for ourselves and for those that do not have access to fresh produce. Through this, we celebrate community, urban farming, and good food.”
If you plan on harvesting produce for a food bank, Farm Manager Shara cautions gardeners to do some work up front before they start digging.
- Many food pantries need produce hearty enough to be transported and stored without refrigeration so inquire as to what can and can’t be donated.
- Grow the most popular veggies (tomatoes, onions, cucumbers) and find out when to pick them so they don’t ripen and spoil before they get distributed to recipients.
- Seek out additional donation guidelines directly from your local food pantry. Start at AmpleHarvest.org where you can type in your zip code to find a local food bank that accepts fresh veggies. The site offers numerous resources for gardeners and food pantries to accomplish its “No Food Left Behind” goal.
Share your expertise – Courtney, Co-Owner, Noble Rot Restaurant
Sometimes a garden’s yield is less than expected, which is why Courtney recommends gardeners donate their time and expertise. “Help start and maintain gardens to empower others to grow their own food just a few feet from their table,” she says.
As the Co-Owner of Noble Rot restaurant, which boasts a 3,000 square foot rooftop garden, she knows the joy of having fresh food in close proximity to the kitchen.
- Work with your local food pantry to identify people who are interested in learning how to install a garden bed in their yard or at a nearby community garden.
- Support new gardeners with workshops or consultations to get them off to a strong start mastering the basics or troubleshooting throughout the growing season.
- Many schools, churches and community gardens already have donation gardens underway and would gladly accept volunteers to plant, weed, pick, clean or transport produce to donation centers.
When you’ve spent the day in the dirt and are too tired to cook, seek out farm-to-table dining opportunities at local farms or restaurants. Not only will you get a delicious meal, but often times the proceeds benefit hardworking local farmers and hunger-relief organizations.
Another WhatchamaBlog garden post you may enjoy: Stop shivering and start strategizing with Garden Tips to Get Growing Now.
Fend off gawking gophers in the garden! Watch our first-ever women’s ad Defend Your Back End to see how.