Ask Eartha: Extra veggies? Sharing is caring
My garden is growing like crazy this summer! I don’t think I will be able to eat all of my veggies. Is there something I can do with the extras?
There is only so much fresh spinach one person can use and freeze! Now that you’ve realized you won’t be able to eat your garden’s abundance, I applaud you for ensuring the extras do not go to waste.
Thankfully, Summit County has an amazing program called Grow to Share, through which gardeners can donate surplus to local families in need. This is a rewarding opportunity to minimize food waste and share your hard work with our community.
Grow for you, Grow to Share
A partnership between High Country Conservation Center, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, and Summit County Women, Infants and Children, Grow to Share provides local produce, nutritional education and hands-on experiences to qualified families in Summit County.
In 2019, Grow to Share distributed 33 varieties of produce totaling more than 420 pounds! While a bag of spinach here or there might not seem like much, it adds up to a lot of food not wasted and redirected into the right hands.
Each day, thousands of our neighbors struggle to put healthy, fresh meals on their tables. In 2017, the Summit Daily News reported that an estimated 3,400 Summit County residents regularly struggle with food insecurity. Fast forward three years and add a global pandemic, and that number is likely much higher.
Home and community gardeners are already supporting their health and the environment by growing their food. By taking this one step further and donating any extra food, gardeners also can help improve the health and quality of life of our community.
How to donate
Whether you are a home gardener or have a plot at a community garden, anyone can donate to Grow to Share. Simply harvest your produce, deliver it to one of the community gardens mentioned below, bag and label the produce, and know that you are making a difference.
When harvesting, make sure to use the appropriate tools. Harvesting in the early morning or late evening is best to prevent wilting and for capturing the peak flavor from herbs. Shake off excess dirt from root veggies and try to avoid storing wet produce in the bags provided. This ensures that you are donating the best-looking produce that can last as long as possible. Small knives work great for greens, cucumbers and squash, whereas gardening scissors work best for more delicate plants and herbs. Other vegetables — carrots, radishes and peas — simply can be pulled or snapped off gently.
Produce collection coolers will be dropped off at Nancy’s Garden in Frisco and the Breckenridge Community Garden. The coolers, located in the shed at the gardens, will be accessible each Monday for community and home gardeners to drop off excess produce for donation.
Bags, labels and pens are provided at each site. Place harvested produce into the bags and fill out the labels. Leave produce in the cooler by the times noted below and know that your excess food will be donated that afternoon. If you happen to miss the Tuesday morning deadlines, you can bring your produce directly to the Dillon Valley Elementary School Garden.
Have your produce bagged, labeled and stored before these pick-up times:
- Nancy’s Garden: 8 a.m. Tuesdays at 83 Nancy’s Place, Frisco
- Breckenridge Community Garden: 7 a.m. Tuesdays at 107 Denison Placer Road, Breckenridge
- Dillon Valley Elementary Garden: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at 108 Deer Path Road, Dillon
Everyone deserves to have access to healthy and nutritious foods. When you have a successful harvest and donate the extras, you make a difference in our community. Consider sowing a few additional seeds to donate each season, and if you ever have a runaway snap pea plant or abundant crop, do not let it go to waste!
For those who didn’t plant a garden this summer and still want to help, visit HighCountryConservation.org to learn more and get involved.
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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