In the age of electronics, gardening can be an excellent way to slow down and unplug. Gardeners reap the benefits of exercise, eating fresh food, and spending time in nature. They also reap a wonderful opportunity to connect. Sharing produce from your garden can help you build relationships with those in your community, encourage people to eat healthier, and increase their access to local produce. You might even inspire a few people to take up gardening themselves. Here are a few ways you can reach out and share your garden harvest.
Organizing a local harvest swap is a great way to meet people and share awesome food. Ask people to bring produce in $5 to $10 increments to trade with others. You might also decide to include other homegrown or handmade products in your swap to increase accessibility and the diversity of merchandise. Some great ideas include: maple syrup, honey, jam, pickles, sauces, eggs, and even wool or handcrafts.
Donating to a food pantry is a great way to give back. Many food pantries would love to be able to offer fresh local produce to people who need it. Check out the Ample Harvest website for gardening resources and to find a food pantry near you.
Offer a Class
Teaching others is a great way to give back. It doesn’t have to be formal, you can just invite a few neighbors. The possibilities are endless: Share your best tips for planting and caring for cucumbers and send them home with a few. Teach a how-to class about canning salsa and send everyone home with a jar. You’ll meet some like-minded folks, enjoy passing on a little extra food, and motivate others to get outside and grow their own.
Plant the Sidewalk Strip
If you live in a neighborhood, planting your sidewalk strip with “pick your own” produce is an excellent way to share the bounty and get others interested in gardening. Try easily harvested and popular plants, like strawberries, cucumbers, or berry bushes. Be sure to check local regulations before planting.
Host a Harvest Potluck
Connect with other gardeners and foodies in your neighborhood by hosting a harvest potluck. Have people bring a dish that includes an ingredient from their own garden or your local farmers market. It’s a delicious way to meet new friends and swap recipes.
Offer a Free CSA
If you love to garden and always have extra produce, you might consider sharing with neighbors regularly. Some farms and large home gardens offer community supported agriculture (CSA) shares. These typically come in the form of weekly or biweekly boxes of produce. You could offer free CSA boxes to families in need or neighbors who aren’t physically capable of gardening.
Every gardener knows that a few squash plants can almost feed a neighborhood. This year, don’t let anything go to waste. Plan to share your harvest with your community. Meet your neighbors and help inspire a love of fresh local food!