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.

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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 in education and volunteering, and their own experiences with fresh produce donations, from both the growing and the receiving sides.

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Peterson Garden Project’s Grow2Give program is an integral part of every one of our garden communities. Eleven percent of our raised bed plots are dedicated to the program, which is run through the efforts of volunteers putting in nearly 2,000 hours each growing season. In 2015, we hope to donate more than a ton of food—enough produce for 10,000 meals.

In November we’ll do a gleaning, harvesting the herbs, greens, and late season vegetables that people have left in their plots for this purpose. Watch our website for details. If you’d like to help support Grow2Give, please make a gift at http://j.mp/GiveToG2G.

Do you donate fresh produce to a local food pantry? Tell us about your experience in the comments.