Grow2Give

At this time of year, we often think of what we are thankful for, and give to others in need. With many food pantries and soup kitchens relying on donations or cheaply purchased leftover or unwanted food, fresh fruits and vegetables are a rare sight among staples like canned beans, rice and day-old bread. With a short shelf life, it’s not surprising: produce may be harvested at a farm days or weeks in advance of arriving at a distributor before it is transported again to neighborhood grocery stores. If it sits on the shelf too long, it’s more likely to spoil and be unsafe to eat, which often happens before the produce can make it to a pantry. Many gardeners choose to grow their own food for different reasons: to eat more seasonally, to show their children where food comes from, or to have the fresh, healthy food for dinner. However, some gardeners grow food for others who cannot, or for people who otherwise would not have access to fresh produce. Since the beginning, Peterson Garden Project has worked with volunteers who grow food for neighborhood pantries and soup kitchens in each of their pop-up community gardens. These volunteer gardeners not only have their own plot at the garden to tend, but also prepare, plant, water, weed and harvest produce in the Grow2Give plots between April and November every year. This huge undertaking requires coordinating watering schedules, frequent garden visits, and sometimes harvesting in the rain or cold to get the produce to the pantry during a narrow drop-off time. In 2015, our Grow2Give volunteer gardeners grew over one ton (2,000+ pounds) of fruits and vegetables just for our neighborhood pantries and soup kitchens: Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park, Inspiration Café in Uptown, Lincoln...

Community Gardens Take Action Against Hunger – World Food Day...

“Gardeners are the most generous people in the world,” says Peterson Garden Project founder LaManda Joy. And this is what we learned, or confirmed, at the recent event, Community Gardens Take Action Against Hunger. Peterson Garden Project shared our own best practices with a roomful of people with creative and innovative approaches to a common problem: making sure food pantries have fresh vegetables. Our Education and Gardens Program Manager, Breanne Heath, spearheaded and facilitated the day to share what we have learned about growing food in collaboration with our food pantry partners. Forty-one people gathered at the Peterson Garden Project Community Cooking School in the Broadway Armory on October 16, to talk about ways to make sure everyone has access to fresh produce. The event started with a panel of amazing, engaged activists who are making a difference in our local food supply: E. Patrick Porter from Stir the Pot (@helpstirthepot), Lyle Allen, our partner at Care for Real, Robert Nevel of KAMII, Scott Best from Common Pantry, and our own Sarah Jane Mallin, Grow2Give leader for PGP’s Vedgewater Garden. Says Lyle Allen, “Not only do we want to fill bellies—we want to do it as healthy as possible. Our partnership with PGP has been instrumental in helping us add produce to our shelves.” Much of the discussion centered around education—learning what pantries need, how community gardeners can create effective donation programs, and, as Robert put it, “the back and forth communication that helps both partners learn something.” Patrick got down to brass tacks: “you have to start growing,” and said, “don’t try to take on the whole city. Just start with your block.” Break-out groups met over lunch donated by Chipotle Mexican Grill to talk about best practices, how to involve community members...

10 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2013 by LaManda Joy...

When I run into our gardeners or people who know about the Peterson Garden Project I hear a lot of comments like “what do you do to stay busy during the winter months?” This makes me laugh because the winter months are just as busy except the work is more cerebral in nature vs. the heavy lifting of spring and summer. The PGP leadership team, and our wonderful partners, have been planning a number of exciting things as we go into year four of our mission to recruit, educate and inspire a new generation of gardeners who want to gain control of their food supply, grow their own produce organically, and make urban gardening the norm—not the exception. From our single, eponymous revival Victory Garden in 2010, we’ve grown to four giant Pop-up Victory gardens, two demo gardens, a workplace garden at the Field Museum and a school garden at Mather High School. It was quite a year! 2013 shows no signs of slowing down as even more people want to learn to grow food and make stronger communities. Here’s ten things I’m looking forward to doing – with YOU – in 2013: Unless you’ve been to one of our plant sales, a movie night or another event, you may not know about our Learning Center at 4642 N Francisco Ave. That’s probably because we got the space (thanks to a grant from CEDA and the Cook County Dept of Energy) right in the middle of April when we were building all the gardens. The Learning Center, or HQ as we like to call it, developed slowly over the summer to host the plant sales, some events, meetings, etc. For 2013 we will be using the space to the fullest with a complete list of...

10 DAYS TO VICTORY: DAY 6 = GENEROSITY BY LAMANDA JOY...

   Your vote = GIVING! Click HERE There’s a saying that “gardeners are generous people” and I’ve always thought it should say “gardens make generous people” instead. You must share when Mother Nature provides you with so much abundance – how could you possibly let all that hard work go to waste? There’s a movement in our country for gardeners to share their bounty with those who have less. Groups like ampleharvest.org make it easy to donate extra food to local food and nutrition programs. From the start we wanted to be generous. Our Grow2Give program provides hundreds of pounds of food every year to various food and nutrition programs. We started giving fresh produce to the CEDA Albany Park WIC year one. This year we’re still working with the Albany Park WIC office as well as Care for Real, Common Pantry, First Slice and Inspiration Kitchen. Volunteer teams tend the Grow2Give plots in each garden, we provide the education and guidance (thanks to our talented leadership team member, Xan). Our goal this year was to grow a literal ton of produce for this program. With the record breaking heat we’re clocking in around 700 pounds this year… not bad, considering. We’ve got some great ideas about an expanded Grow2Give program in 2013. Your vote to help us win $10k from Chase Community Giving can help make that plan happen. VOTE HERE: http://j.mp/ChaseGivingPGP and please tell your friends. Sharing feels...

Thankful Thursday – Whole Foods Market Sauganash...

  This Thankful Thursday post is a bit belated, but we are thankful nonetheless! We started partnering with Whole Foods Market Sauganash in 2010 with our original garden. This year we were honored to be part of a 5% Day this spring at the store. That means that 5% of all purchases for that day went to our organization… prior to that day, Xan and I spent an afternoon at the store educating shoppers on our mission and who we were. The 5% day itself, Lindsay was at the store saying thank you and drumming up interest. Many of our gardeners made special trips that Thursday to stock up on pantry essentials to help up the total (THANK YOU!). Our 5% Day brought it almost $4,000!  In addition to the 5% Day, we were also part of the One Dime at a Time program for the quarter where shoppers who brought their own bags were able to donate the bag credit to us. Funds from both of these activities went to support our Grow2Give program which provides fresh produce to select food and nutrition programs in the neighborhoods where our gardens are located. [Our goal for 2012 is to donate a (literal) ton of produce from the 50+ Grow2Give beds located throughout the four Pop-up Victory Gardens on the north side and the Edible Treasures Garden at the Field Museum.] But the story doesn’t end there… the funds were amazing but we also had the pleasure of hosting the customer service team from the store for a day of service at one of our gardens (those are the smiley people at the top of this post). These annual customer service events are key to training and morale for the Whole Foods Market Sauganash team. The great...

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