Thinking of growing for (and/or with) those in need? I got you covered. Here are links from a series I wrote in 2012 to encourage anyone who is thinking of starting an organic home garden or designating space at a community garden from which to donate to their local food pantry or other organization. Please note that none of the links within the articles work anymore, but the content (including lots of photos) in the articles themselves should prove valuable to you. If you have a particular need or interest in the sub-links, please contact me and I will provide them to you if I can.
Since I wrote these, I have seen a shockingly steep decline in my home garden pollinator population for reasons beyond my control, so my annual poundage numbers and per-square-foot expectations from pollinator-dependent crops (most of the summer beauties) have decreased. I have increased my herb output (and at a retail value of $32 a pound, that’s no small impact), but I have not found a reliable ongoing recipient location for this bounty yet (see here for my Mint for Good idea, which I still like). I mostly share with children and their parents now as they stroll past my home garden, with the hopes that I am planting seeds in them. Plus, I let my herbs flower as much as possible to do what I can for the few bees and butterflies that remain.
Bottom line? Just start. Just grow. Just share. We are all hungry in some way, shape, or form.
Anyway, so here’s the article series, called Operation Plant a Row, for what it’s worth.
Reminder: the fastest way to start a new garden is to get the highest quality organic soil and organic fertilizer you can and prepare the bed BEFORE you plant seasonally, culturally, and geographically-appropriate crops in a spot that gets enough sunlight and water. (Note that when we fundraised though social media numerous times, our goals were usually met within mere days, sometimes underwritten by local businesses.) So many people just drop seeds in their existing soil and then wonder why they have sick-looking, stunted plants (and are then tempted to douse them with chemicals to “get them to grow”). (There is a slow, low-cost way to do this that involves cardboard and cover crops, and I have used that method often.) Note: so much of our soil (especially in neighborhoods built after 1990, which is where more than 60 percent of Americans live) has been removed and replaced with poor-quality fill soil. Additionally, if you live in an older home, you should get your soil tested for lead before planting, or plant in raised beds with new soil only, with some kind of liner on the bottom.
See here for videos I created and articles I wrote that may be helpful to you. Don’t miss my book, Food for My Daughters: what one mom did when the towers fell, and what you can do, too for lots of additional stories, tips, and recipes. Let me know if you want me to talk with your gardening group via Skype after you read it.
Not a gardener? Not a problem. There are so many needs at your local food pantry, and throughout your community. Find a way to use your unique skills and interests. Don’t waste time pissing around (i.e. being PowerPointed at in meetings). See You Can Talk about Getting Things Done. Or You Can Just Do It. And then do it. It feels awesome, and it matters, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem to you at first.