I’m sure you are familiar with canned food drives, and questions at the grocery store like, “Would you like to round up your total to help fight hunger?” Have you ever felt that you would like to help, but money is out of the question? What if I told you that there is another way you can give that might just benefit you? The benefits of growing a garden and learning about organizations connect community members in meaningful ways to fight food insecurity and promote resilience.
There are many ways to give to a food bank. You could volunteer your time and give donations, but one of the most rewarding ways to get involved is to start a giving garden. Many local food banks partner with community gardens where members will “grow a row” and donate the harvest. If you already have a garden then you know that nature can offer us an unexpected bounty. Maybe a zucchini went rogue and grew far beyond our expectations. Maybe you are going on vacation and you won’t be there to enjoy the harvest, you can simply harvest and give to your local food bank that accepts produce donations. Your local conservation district will most likely have a list, as well as other resources. A conservation district is a community-based hub of natural resources expertise and funding that promote sustainable systems including community access to local produce.
If you want to go deeper into your gardening practice and be a part of a cool community of people you can join programs like Seed, Sow, Share, and contribute to a seed library.
There are also programs like the Emergency Food Network, that help people grow their own food by providing education and free seed starts to local community gardens.
Most if not all of these community-based programs are powered by volunteers and are always looking for people that want to help out. The bonds of friendship and community created through volunteer work often last a lifetime. Is there a better way to bring meaning to one’s life than putting your hands in fresh soil and laughing with friends in the sunshine?
During the 2020 Pandemic, we witnessed the breakdown of our supply chains. This knowledge, coupled with rising food prices, organizers and planners came together and came up with solutions to create a more just food system. They found their answers in the garden and you can too.