1. Our 7 food bank beds; we harvested over 2,500 lbs. of fresh produce over the last 3 summers. This summer we are planting crops that are most valuable to the food bank, which could result in a lower yield as they are "lightweight", even though there will be an abundance of greens (lettuce, radish, chard, kale, etc.). As the temperatures climb we are planting entire beds of zucchini and bush beans for vegetables the food bank recipients enjoy most. In late July we'll plant more greens as cooler weather will be in store.
2. Our community garden is growing! We added a new raspberry community bed next to our existing raspberry bed which brings our community/member shared beds to include herbs, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, asparagus, flowers, and an orchard with apples, plums, and cherries.
3. Our dedicated board of directors makes things happen in our garden! We're adding a small greenhouse next to our garden shed & picnic table. Our 4 new compost bins were made using recycled wooden pallets.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Our garden provides a raised bed, water, and all the tools necessary to grow food for individuals/families/food bank. The aging of our garden "infrastructure". We're in our 10th season of growing food & cultivating community, and the original raised beds are needing repairs/replacement. We have one bed made with donated concrete blocks, but it too needs to be repaired. Tools are used regularly by many people, so they, too, need replacing. Regular maintenance is required on faucets due to regular use by many gardeners.
How are you working to overcome them?
We keep a certain amount of funds readily available for the repair/replacement of garden beds. We look for a discounted rate on tools & bed supplies so that we can afford what we need to use. We ask our members to help in the general maintenance of our garden.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
1. Have your members "commit" to volunteering for a specific task on their contract at the beginning of the season; they will be more inclined to help out without being asked to so many times; we require/request that members volunteer at least 6 hours to the garden (outside of their own bed).
2. Ask your local food bank which fresh crops are most wanted; some food is provided to them by the local supermarket (potatoes & carrots), while fresh greens, zucchini & beans is provided mostly by our community garden.