All summer and fall, gardeners in the 10 city community gardens, where we set up our coolers, donated excess harvests to us. Every Monday and Thursday, our volunteers visited each of the gardens to clear out the bins and delivered the produce either to our walk-in or directly to a school site produce distribution where food-insecure students took fresh produce home for themselves and their family members.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Aphids! In one particular community garden, it was a challenge to get the message to the gardeners who kept putting aphid-infested kale into the bins, contaminating other produce, and forcing us to rinse the bin every time. If we had the time and means to thoroughly wash the produce we would, but often the produce is going straight from the garden bin to a school produce distribution, and bug-infested produce can really turn a kid off.
How are you working to overcome them?
We made a presentation to the community gardeners at the end of the season to help educate some of them on this problem. We'll continue to market that message next growing season.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
People who are food-insecure are especially grateful for donations of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers, the types of items that tend to cost more at the market.