Guest Gardening Bloggers

How to be a Harvest Hero

By Shelley Pierce | June 26, 2019
Image by AmpleHarvest.org

How to be a Harvest Hero

by Shelley Pierce June 26, 2019

How to be a Harvest Hero

By Shelley Pierce | June 26, 2019

Have you ever grown way more vegetables than you could eat?

A typical gardener plants seeds each year and then eagerly waits to begin harvesting the tasty veggies. As the growing season progresses, they often discover they have a far larger harvest than they can use, preserve or give away to friends. Then comes a difficult choice, do they compost the leftovers? Let them rot? Toss it?

Here’s where AmpleHarvest.org can help.

A gardener overwhelmed with a bountiful harvest can go to the AmpleHarvest.org website to find a pantry that is eager for their harvest. They simply enter their home address or zip code and the number of miles they are willing to travel to a pantry. AmpleHarvest.org displays a listing of food pantries, sorted by distance, along with a Google map.

Food pantries registered with AmpleHarvest.org across the US

AmpleHarvest.org is an opt-in directory – only those pantries that choose to participate or are registered by their managing food bank will appear. Most food pantries find that the garden produce is quickly taken by their clients – often within hours of delivery by the gardeners. Food pantries are almost always struggling to meet an ever growing need for food assistance, so this extra source of fresh local produce is incredibly helpful.

Why is fighting food waste important?

Food waste contributes to hunger and malnutrition, worsens diet related diseases such as Type II Diabetes and obesity. It squanders energy, increases the waste stream and climate change, impacts your taxes, and can even impact national security. All because we have not been using the food we have.

America wastes almost 100 billion pounds of food a year, or about one pound per person per day according to the New York Times. AmpleHarvest.org conducted a study of 2,500 gardeners and found the amount of home grown food that is not consumed adds up to 11.5 billion pounds.

While these figures are staggering, the worst part is that at the same time, more than 42 million people are going hungry. That’s one out of every six Americans struggling to put food on their family’s table.

Food donated by North Forty Farmerettes. Photo credit: North Forty Farmerettes

How does gardeners’ produce help?

According to the National Gardening Association, more than 42 million Americans grow vegetables, fruit and herbs in their backyard, rooftop, patio and windowsill gardens. If every gardener donated even a small amount of produce, we could end the nation’s hunger problem, and have a positive effect on the environment.

For millions of food insecure Americans, food pantries are the best – and sometimes only – resource for feeding their families. Unfortunately, food pantries are often lacking in fresh produce options. Canned vegetables are often processed with extra salt and fruit with a sugary syrup, either of which can contribute to future health problems like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Making fresh produce available helps to significantly improve the health of many Americans.

AmpleHarvest.org has been fighting food waste and hunger for ten years. Every day we educate gardeners on the importance of saving their extra produce from becoming waste. Our award winning founder, Gary Oppenheimer also travels around the country as a keynote speaker. Our program Food Waste Weekend helps educate faith based organizations. In addition, during times of crisis, we shift our nationwide focus to a more local one, working to help more of the gardeners in impacted areas donate more food to pantries to help the local needs of the people.

AmpleHarvest.org has received support and backing from Google Inc., the White House and the USDA, the National Council of Churches, the National Gardening Association, Feeding America and its member food banks, Garden Writers of America as well as numerous faith organizations. It is available to food pantries (and similar feeding programs) and gardeners at no charge.

Are you ready to fight hunger and food waste with us? Help spread the word!

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