Share your fresh vegetables
Sharing your harvest is a great idea, especially now when so many are in need.
We all know seed packets and seedlings produce way more than one family can use. Who can use all of the basil a six-pack tray generates? Further, when you calculate the amount of time, resources and water it takes to grow a garden full of veggies, herbs and fruits it can really add up.
Contact a local food bank, church or community organization to see if they can use your overflow. Many food distribution services are struggling in today's economy and are relying more on fresh food donations. While they still need non-perishable goods, they welcome homegrown fruits and vegetables. Westside Food Bank in Los Angeles and Food Finders in Long Beach have online appeals for your freshly harvested products. Please see links in resources below.
Many local churches provide hot meals for the homeless. Contact one in your area and let them know you can provide vegetables and fruits to the kitchen. Alternately, volunteer to prepare some side dishes. Your donation does not have to feed a great number because as one dish runs out, another takes it place.
At one event, we had more people than we were prepared for. Noting several people were still in line, we announced that everything was gone except the mashed potatoes and gravy. Not one person moved and we continued to serve until there was not a drop of anything left. Our gracious diners thanked us for a delicious meal.
Do not forget your neighbors! This weekend is the perfect time to pick some fresh herbs or even flowers and show up at someone's door with a smile. Fresh picked flowers in a sparkling clean but old vase are always received with delight.
Prepare ahead of time by finding used baskets and containers at yard sales or thrift stores. Clean them thoroughly and save, covered, in your garage or nearby place. When it is time to harvest your veggies or fruits, make your selection, wash by soaking in slightly salted water and then drain to remove most of the water.
Create a little card listing the types of herbs and/or vegetables with suggested usage. My favorites are green garlic tops, spring onions, basil, rosemary and sage. On the card, I write how to use the garlic tops (most non-gardeners are surprised they can be used) and add a chicken and gravy recipe where they add a superb but subtle flavor. If you do not have the time or inclination to do the extra steps, please know that the gift is the most important thing.
It is not waste when you share and if you can assist in making a meal for someone, it makes the time spent in your garden so much more worthwhile.