When you're planning your garden for the season it's important to consider what you're going to do with everything. Putting in a veritable Eden seems like a good idea when there's still a blanket of snow on the ground, but it's overwhelming when the zucchini are maturing before your very eyes or you have a bushel of beans to eat. This is the time to develop a backup plan besides dropping it off on your neighbor's porch at night.
When I sat down with Gayle and Pam at the Great Falls Food Bank yesterday we discussed spreading the word on where gardeners can take their extra produce, as well as encouraging home growers to join the "Plant a Row for the Hungry" campaign, a national program hosted by the Garden Writers Association. Gayle is working on acquiring seeds from different organizations to hand out to gardeners willing to grow for the food bank. At this point in time we're planning on having the Cascade County Extension Office be the central location to pick up seeds (although Wade, our illustrious ag agent, is off basking in the sun somewhere so the decision isn't completely finalized). Anyone in Great Falls can pick up the free seeds, grow the produce, and drop it off at the food bank. The food bank is also more than happy to take the extras from anyone who isn't officially part of the effort.
I'm going to encourage our plot people at the River City Harvest community gardens to join the program, as well. We already plan on having several plots for charitable organizations, but if people designate specific rows I can add those to our harvest list. This way whoever is harvesting will know what they can pick. And Gayle said she can send over her volunteers to pick up the veggies so I'm hoping the process will go much smoother this season.
I told Gayle it would be wonderful if we reached a point where they were saturated with produce, but I think that's going to be a tough goal to meet. If Gayle can't use it, she has plenty of resources such as Meals on Wheels, the Mercy Home, Great Falls Mission and many other food pantries that will. While I'm glad it won't go to waste, it's unsettling that there are so many in need just in our little area. If nothing else, hopefully we can make a small dent.