Plant. Grow. Share.

plant grow share

Is your garden overflowing with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash or zucchini and you are not quite sure what to do with the extra harvest? Consider donating your fresh garden produce to your local food pantry.

Many food pantries are in need of fresh produce for their clients. And while some gardeners are aware of produce donation some hesitate to take excess produce to a food pantry because of concerns of liability and donated produce going to waste.

But you don’t have to worry; Good Samaritan Laws protect you from any liability when donating produce. While produce does not have a long shelf life, it’s always the first off the shelves so it never goes to waste. Since fresh produce is an uncommon item at food pantries, every little bit helps and your community will thank you for it.

If you are donating produce to a food pantry or other organization, check out this great tip sheet on safe produce handling practices.

HOW CAN I HELP?

Cultivate Iowa is asking you to donate extra garden produce to your local food pantry. You don’t need to have a big garden to donate; any amount is helpful and needed. So if you find yourself with extra produce throughout the year, please consider donating to your local food pantry.

READY TO START DONATING?

STEP 1: Make the promise today to donate tomorrow and help your community. Go to www.CultivateIowa.org and click on ‘Donate Produce’ at the top of the page.

Step 2: Click the red ‘I PROMISE TO DONATE FRESH PRODUCE’ button and enter your email address and zip code.

Step 3: Enter your zip code in the green box to find locations in your community where you can donate fresh produce.

Step 4. Deliver your produce to the food pantry soon after it has been picked.Veggies in bowl

In the words of one Iowa gardener “Zucchini is a gateway drug. Once you get growers hooked on how good donating feels, they will find other produce to share as well.”

The Cultivate Iowa campaign aims to cultivate food security and improve health of Iowans by increasing access to garden produce through integrated coordination, social marketing and outreach strategies specifically targeting low-resource Iowans and food gardeners. Cultivate Iowa is a signature project of the Iowa Food Systems Council’s Food Access and Health Work Group. To learn more about the Cultivate Iowa initiative, go to www.CultivateIowa.org.

Guest Blogger,

angie signature

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

More Posts

Get Your Updated Garden Publications

It is almost time to plant the garden. You do not need a big space, container gardens and small plots (like 4’x4’ plot) will produce enough for you to enjoy that fresh garden taste. A couple of years ago, I blogged about “My Top Ten Reasons to Garden”. I skimmed them this morning and they are still on target.

The Iowa State University Horticulture department recently updated several publications with all the new cultivars, for the home gardener. They are available to download or you can purchase them from our store.

Container Vegetable Gardening

PM 0870B

Includes information regarding: container construction, size, and capacity; crop selection and planting density; summer care (location, watering, fertilization, tomato tips). Lists suggestions for 12 container garden vegetables (more than 40 cultivars) including: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes.  Gives a recipe for soiless potting mix.

Small Plot Vegetable Gardening

PM 0870A

This publication outlines recommendations and techniques for growing quality vegetables in a limited space, including planning, site selection, summer care, and space saving techniques. Lists suggestions for 16 garden vegetables (more than 50 varietals) including: cucumbers, green beans, peppers, pole beans, spinach, tomatoes, summer and winter squash, and others.

Planting a Home Vegetable Garden

PM 0819

Provides basic how-to information, including seedbed preparation, seed selection and sowing, and using transplants. Chart gives planting guidelines for 37 vegetables.

If you have a question, check out the Yard and Garden FAQs Home Page.  The database has answers to over 750 commonly asked questions on a wide range of gardening topics.

Can a Vegetable Garden Save You Money?

That’s the title of an article by Cindy Haynes, Extension Horticulturalist. Her answer was “yes” if done correctly. She goes on to quote a book about $64 tomatoes. 

We laugh in my family about the “$10,000” garden that my sisters and Dad share. It has high fences to keep out the deer, cement borders, table and benches, and a shed for storing equipmentplus it is connected to the yard irrigation system. We grow several varieties of tomatoes and peppers as well as peas, green beans, zucchini, onions, radishes, cucumbers, rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries, and lettuce in the garden. We have grown white and sweet potatoes, winter squash, melons, broccoli, and eggplant. I don’t think anyone keeps track of what they spend on the garden, but I do know that the garden supplies all of us (and many friends) with loads of fresh, delicious fruits and veggies. Besides enjoying “the fruit of our labors,” the garden provides hours of discussion and shared activity.

If you are new to gardening, I strongly recommend that you start small as Cindy recommends. I had container gardens for years and enjoyed tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, et cetera which grew on the patio. Cindy’s article includes a list of ISU publications you can get at your county ISU Extension office, or you may download a pdf version from the ISU Extension Online Store.

-pointers from Peggy

Winter squash or pumpkins in abundance?

My sisters, dad and I share a garden spot. We try to coordinate so that we all work in the garden at the same time because it is more fun that way, but with our schedules that doesn’t happen very often. This spring when we were planting, a couple of times someone planted over the top of something that was already in the ground (this is why we had peppers growing in the bean rows). I was determined to have some winter squash, so I planted a whole row of seeds about 3” apart and put milk cartons filled with water every foot to mark the row. To make a long story short, I didn’t thin the plants, so the squash took over a corner of the garden and now we have lots of acorn squash. If you have an abundance of winter squash or pumpkins, here are some helps:

-pointers by Peggy

 

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