Saturday, May 8, 2010

Vegetable Philanthropy!


What in the world is 'vegetable philanthropy'? First, it's a term that my husband and I coined for the idea of donating extra produce from your garden to your local soup kitchen or food pantry. Second, it's the act of donating, itself!

A few years ago, before the term 'vegetable philanthropy' was born I came up with the idea of finding a place where my extra cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers could be put to good use. I used to take them to work, but I always felt that the people taking my veggies didn't truly appreciate the gifts, or that what I brought in was lovingly, sometimes painstakingly grown in my own backyard. So I wanted to find more meaning in my extra vegetables.

It took me a while to find a local, convenient place that could accept just a small amount of produce - a bag of cucumbers here, a basket of tomatoes there. It was difficult even finding a listing of local organizations to call. Finally after some persistence, I discovered a soup kitchen about a mile from my home that was small - about 30-40 dinners a night - that would be perfect for my modest donations. I called and was told that, yes, they would take fresh food if you brought it when someone was there to receive it. So about every week or so during the high harvest I dropped off my goods. A new tradition was born!

I've been dropping stuff off at this soup kitchen about 10-12 times a year ever since. The volunteers there were always happy to receive, and genuinely thankful. Lest you think that it takes a lot of work to have extra food, keep in mind that my garden is only 10'x25', with about a 10' row of cucumbers, 5 tomato plants, 5 pepper plants. It doesn't take much at all to have a bounty full of well, bounty.

I have much more to say about 'Vegetable Philanthropy', but I'll save it for my next post. In the meantime, now is a perfect time for you to plant an extra tomato, pepper, or other veggie of your choice in preparation for donations later this summer (see photo above for me and my extra tomato, taken last week).

By the way, 'Vegetable Philanthropy' is, thirdly, the underlying theme of the 'Grow It Give It' campaign under Grow It Eat It. Check it out for great resources on how to get started!

2 comments:

  1. I love this idea and will be working my little piece of it this year. I think we need to engage the soup kitchens in a dialog and work towards planting what they need, extending the season at both ends and maybe helping discover new cooking methods and uses for bounty.

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  2. I just had an email conversation with a director at Manna Food Center here in Montgomery, who suggests supplying recipes (or at least info and suggestions) for any more "unusual" produce donated. They are very willing to accept anything edible, though.

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