Give back to your community at a time of plenty
There is a short window of time when we have more food on our hands that we know what to do with, especially in the Pacific Northwest where the growing season limits what can grow year round. However, if you are a local food supporter, home gardener or Full Circle member, you probably know that this is the time of year when everyone is thankful for, if not sometimes overwhelmed with, the abundance of locally grown produce.
Figuring out how to use the sheer abundance of leafy greens, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, basil, berries, peppers, eggplant, carrots, radishes, beans and stone fruit, can be wholly overwhelming. I know that, as I watch my garden start to overflow with goods, yet can’t tear myself away from my neighborhood’s weekly farmers market, all while still receiving a weekly delivery from Full Circle’s Farm-to-table program, I often feel like throwing up a white flag and surrendering to the battle of vegetable overload.
For me, letting even a singular zucchini go to waste is out of the question, but even my vegetable loving dog has grown tired of them. Canning, preserving, pickling and freezing frenzies often whirl through my kitchen as I frantically do my best to prolong the lifespan of the precious harvest season.
Fortunate friends, neighbors and family members of gardeners, farmers and foodies get used to receiving bundles of “I just had way too much of these…” at this time of year. Having been on both ends of this scenario; I greatly appreciate the community that grows around sharing the season’s harvest and one’s homegrown abundance with another who is less fortunate, especially when it means that nothing goes to waste and no home-cook goes crazy.
Harvest Against Hunger, a division of Rotary First Harvest, has set out to take advantage of this challenge that so many food enthusiasts and producers experience, and expand on the community development that sharing locally produced food with one another has to offer. Starting tomorrow, Tuesday August 2nd, a donation booth at the Carnation farmers market will be geared specifically toward local farmers, gardeners and market shoppers who wish to donate extra produce to those in need of fresh, healthy food. Individuals and farmers alike are invited make a fresh food donation. Market shoppers are also invited to purchase a few extra items for donation.
Donations will be distributed throughout the Hopelink and Snoqualmie Tribe food bank systems. For many low-income families and community members who rely on food banks, access to fresh, whole and healthy foods is extremely difficult. Produce donations made through this new program will help combat nutritional disparities that can lead to diet related diseases as well as poor performance in school.
Conveniently, the Carnation farmers market is located in the parking lot of the Snoqualmie valley Hope Link building, where the food can be directly dealt with and distributed by volunteers for the program.
This is only one of many local and widespread gleaning and produce donation projects that Harvest against Hunger and Rotary First Harvest have facilitated throughout Washington State. With each donation, people who have very limited or no access at all to fresh foods, are given the opportunity to feed themselves and their families nutrient rich, nourishing and locally grown whole foods.
So, this Tuesday, stop worrying about how to use up dozens of summer squash or lettuce heads and visit the official launch of the donation program in the Snoqualmie valley area. The market will be open from 3 to 7 and the donation booth will be located around the corner from the main market strip, behind the Hope Link building near the back door for ease of packing and distribution at the end of the day.
Please visit Harvest Against Hunger, Rotary First Harvest and Hope Link to learn more about this program as well as other city and statewide produce donation and gleaning programs that are helping make a difference to many community members and entire communities in need.