Too much zucchini again this year? As the harvest season is winding down many gardeners share excess produce with friends, neighbors and co-workers, but have you thought of taking some of that extra food to a local food pantry or soup kitchen?
Jessica and Jason Runge started their Roots & Wings Family Farm, a CSA in Cherry Creek, five years ago.
"We started donating one share, now we're up to three. I just give the produce to the food pantry people in South Dayton and Cherry Creek," said Jessica.
The Runges also give their customers the option to "share a share" by donating money for a share to go the food pantry. Jessica adds, "We've also grown and donated vegetable transplants for South Dayton."
She knows of some farmers who donate to Rural Ministry and the Gleaning Project in northern Chautauqua County and others who donate to the St. Susan Center in Jamestown.
In 2010, Chautauqua County Master Gardeners in the Mayville area started a garden at the Mayville Food Pantry to grow fresh vegetables for the pantry. It has also become a beautiful "demonstration garden" to show folks in the neighborhood how they may grow their own food, or at least a portion of it. Because of the huge success and impact on the community the Mayville Food Pantry Garden had, this year, the Master Gardeners created more Giving Garden space at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office on Turner Road in Jamestown in order to provide fresh local produce to the St. Susan Center. So far, more than 250 pounds of produce have been donated from the new garden.
Food sharing is a wonderful thing. If you have some extra produce, how about calling your local food pantry to ask if they can use it? And, when planning your garden for next year, plan an extra zucchini or tomato plant to grow food for someone else who could really use it. Maybe it is time we brought back the idea of Victory Gardens - everybody growing whatever they can, not to support the war effort as in World War II, but to fight against hunger by providing local, healthy food for those in need in our communities.
The mission of the Chautauqua County Master Gardener Program is to educate and serve the community, utilizing university and research-based horticultural information. Volunteers are from the community who have successfully completed 50-plus hours of Cornell approved training and volunteer a minimum of 50 hours per year.
For more information on the Master Gardener Program, contact: Betsy Burgeson, Master Gardener coordinator, at 664-9502, ext. 204 or via email at Emh92@cornell.edu.
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