got produce?

May 21st, 2012 1:52 pm by Kelly Garbato

2012-05-07 - Garden - 0008

A baby pepper, just planted!
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As you’re planning and planting your garden this year – tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squash, and zucchini as far as the eye can see – please consider including an extra row or two (or three or four!) so that you can donate the excess to a local food pantry. Ample Harvest is a free service that connects gardeners with local charities in need of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and herbs – you know, all the good stuff that any self-respecting vegan gardener might already be planting in her plot.

Here’s how it works:

The Idea

While more than 50 million Americans live in food insecure homes (including a quarter of all children under the age of six), more than 40 million Americans grow fruit, vegetables herbs and nuts in home gardens – often more than they can use, preserve or give to friends.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Opportunity

Struggling to feed their families, many Americans, both those chronically economically challenged as well as those now impacted by the economic downturn have come to rely on the more than 33,500 food pantries (also called food shelves, food closets, food cupboards or food banks in some areas) across America to help feed their families.

These food pantries, relying on donated and purchased foods, almost never have fresh produce and instead rely on canned or processed produce shipped from across the country at significant cost, both economic and environmental.

At the same time, millions of home and community gardeners nationwide with an abundant harvest do not know that they can share their harvest, do not know how to share their harvest and do not know where to share their harvest. AmpleHarvest.org solves that for them.

The Vision

AmpleHarvest.org envisions an America where millions of gardeners eliminate malnutrition and hunger in their own community.

The Mission

AmpleHarvest.org diminishes hunger in America by educating, encouraging and enabling gardeners to donate their excess harvest to the needy in their community instead of allowing it to rot in the garden. There are no costs to the food pantries or the gardeners for use of AmpleHarvest.org.

The Message

A number of America’s problem could be diminished or even solved if everyone valued our resources, especially fresh food, as the treasure it really is. Our message to America is:

No Food Left Behind

While this doesn’t solve the problem of food access – not by a long shot – growing and donating fresh vegan foods is a small step that you can take to help alleviate hunger in your own community. As Ample Harvest explains, locally sourced foods are also beneficial for the environment: unlike processed foods, fresh foods donated by the community don’t travel as far, don’t require excess packaging – and can even be grown organically, if that’s your thing.

The Impact

Currently, 5,132 food pantries across all 50 states are registered to recevie a sustainable and recurring supply of freshly harvested, locally grown food (many for the first time) from area growers – for free!.

In August 2010 (mid harvest) when AmpleHarvest.org was only 15 months old, a survey of then registered food pantries incdicated that more than 3 million pounds of freshly harvested locally grown produce had been donated to food pantries.

Millions of pantry clients can feed their family fresh food instead of food packaged with added salt and sugar thereby reducing the likelyhood of diet related illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Children, now at greater risk of obesity then ever before, are exposed to fresh produce with many learning for the first time that apples do not normally come pre-sliced in cellophane, peas come in pods and not cans and carrots are normally sweet and crunchy.

Gardeners across America enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping their neighbors in need by reaching into their backyard instead of their back pocket.

Families are introduced to new varieties of food they may have had no prior access to.

The carbon footprint of the pantries is reduced as locally sourced food (without packaging or cans trucked across the country that need to be disposed of) is used.

The community waste stream is reduced (taxes too!) as excess food is donated instead of being thrown away thereby also reducing methane emissions (a climate change gas with 20 times the impact of CO2) at trash dumps.

To participate, simply go to Ample Harvest’s Find a Food Pantry page and search for a food pantry near you. Click through for contact info and directions. Some follow-up may be required, particularly if you have a large number of items to donate.

Even if yours are not the greenest of thumbs, you can still help by spreading the word!

Urge a food pantry to register at AmpleHarvest.org. Find the food pantry in your community, possibly in a nearby house of worship, a YMCA or other civic location. Give them this flyer and urge them to register ASAP. Let them know they don’t need extra refrigeration and that AmpleHarvest.org is totally FREE!.

Help others learn about AmpleHarvest.org. Put this article in your blog or newsletter.

Help local gardeners learn to share their excess harvest. Print this two sided flyer and post it a local garden shops, nurseries, supermarket bulletin boards, etc. to help gardeners learn about the opportunity to help the hungry.

Help publicize the AmpleHarvest.org Campaign. Ask your local media to visit this page and do a story about people in the community wanting fresh produce for their families from the local food pantry. Help promote “No Food Left Behind”.

Lastly, donate food from your garden. Find a local food pantry here. Not growing anything right now? Use our iPhone and Android apps to help find a local food pantry when you are shopping.

Since learning about Ample Harvest a few years ago, I’ve wanted to give it to try – but alas, a streak of seriously bad luck in the garden has left us produce-less. 2010’s carpet-as-mulch fiasco was followed by 2011’s even worse idea of pot gardening. The summer of ’11 proved so hot and dry that we were unable to keep the plants adequately hydrated. Epic fail!

This year we’re taking it easy – no extra rows for us – but on the bright side, the apple trees are putting out, and in a big way. Freak disasters aside, this year’s apple harvest should rival that of 2008 – which saw approximately 120 grocery sacks full of red and green apples. We gave the bulk of ’em away on freecycle (and the deers enjoyed a healthy amount, too), but I do believe I’m still snacking on fruit leather hand crafted from that first epic batch.

A quick search reveals that there are nine different registered food pantries located within 25 miles of my house, even though I live out in the sticks. Not bad!

Anyway, we’re already planning to donate some apples through Ample Harvest this fall. I hope you like baked apples, St. Joseph-ians!

 

2012-05-07 - Apple Tree - 0003

Apples in progress.
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2 Responses to “got produce?”

  1. Attn. Gardeners « Value Time Says:

    […] Full story Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. Apple Cobbler (Hold the Cobbler!) » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] sure I’ll still end up giving the majority away, probably to a local food pantry through Ample Harvest or via freecycle. Even after the resident raccoon family stripped one tree almost completely bare, […]

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