Guest post by Robin Ritterhoff (my co-leader for vegetables at the Derwood Demo Garden).
As the Derwood Demonstration Garden’s growing season has come to an end, we are thankful for the past season of production, camaraderie and learning. And we are so grateful for our growing partnership with Montgomery County’s food bank - our contributions of just-harvested vegetables have reached 668 pounds for 2013.
Listening to our food bank partners, we’ve learned to bag veggies as we harvest in family-sized quantities so they can be distributed the same day. We’re thrilled that our heirloom tomatoes, beans, greens and root vegetables may be gracing our neighbors’ table just a few hours after we harvested them – what could be more rewarding for vegetable gardeners? Our partners have also taught us how to use what we grow better – for example, encouraging us to harvest the greens as well as the roots of our sweet potatoes. How delighted we were when West African- and Taiwan-born neighbors reveled in the sweet potato greens we gave them, a favorite food from home. Hunger is a hidden, but prevalent problem in Montgomery County, even though the U.S. Census identified our county as the United States’ 11th wealthiest in December 2012. Nearly a third of Montgomery County’s public school students qualify for a free or reduced price meal, an indication of the income disparities in our community.