You?ve frozen, dried and canned all the fruit and vegetables you can use over winter. But your garden keeps on producing. Now what?
Your extra fruit and veggies can easily find a loving home. And there?s good reason to make sure your entire harvest makes it to someone?s table.
About 50 percent of all fruits and vegetables grown worldwide go to waste. This staggering number is especially tragic considering that one in nine people in the world suffer from chronic undernourishment, including one in approximately 650 people in developed countries.
You can make a difference in your community by using some of the following suggestions to share the food you grow.
Donate to Charitable Organizations
Many different organizations will welcome your extra fruit and vegetables, such as food banks, homeless shelters, community or seniors? centers, spiritual groups and churches, or home-delivered meal programs.
AmpleHarvest.org has an extensive listing of different organizations throughout the United States that will accept extra produce. You can search for one near you on their website.
FeedingAmerica.org also has a searchable listing of food banks throughout the U.S.
Contact Your Local Gleaners
Gleaning is the act of collecting fresh foods from farms, gardens or other sources to share it with those in need. Many communities have a gleaning group that can come to your home and collect your excess produce.
Food Rescue has a listing of groups you can contact in the U.S., or you can search the internet for groups in other countries.
Can?t find any gleaners near you? The United States Department of Agriculture has published a good guide on how to start your own gleaning program.
Put Up a Stand
A simple table on your front lawn with some veggies and a ?Free? sign on it should encourage most of them to find a new home.
A more elaborate option is to build a stand or booth to shade your fruit and vegetables. You could also add a basket or lockbox for donations to your favorite charity in exchange.
Feed It to Your Pets and Livestock
Your animal friends don?t need to miss out on your harvest. Many pet birds, rodents, horses, goats, reptiles and other animals would appreciate your extra produce. It?s even been shown that some vegetables are healthy for dogs.
Advertise Your Bounty
RipeNear.Me is a great site designed for home growers to share their overabundance with others. You can choose to give away your produce or charge a fee for it.
You can also advertise to trade, give away or sell your extra fruit and veggies in your local newspaper, community newsletter or online at sites like Freecycle.org, Kijiji.ca, EbayClassifieds.com, or Craigslist.org.
Community sites like Nextdoor or your community Facebook page are other excellent places to post.
Organize a Group Cook-off
Cooking big batches of food is a fun excuse to get together with friends and try making something new. And the best part is, everyone has some healthy meals to take home for later.
Check out MamaBake.com for suggestions on organizing group cooking and some big batch recipes.
It?s also a great idea to donate extra prepared food you make to a neighbor in need.
Host a Meal
This can be as basic as inviting a few friends over for a meal featuring lots of your home-grown fruit and vegetables.
If you?re interested in something a bit more ambitious, try hosting a pop-up restaurant. You can register on sites like EatWith.com that matches up hosts and diners to share meals worldwide.
Swap with Other Gardeners
Ask your friends, neighbors and around your community to find people interested in trading their excess fruit and veggies with yours.
You can also throw a produce swapping party and invite guests to bring their overabundance to be redistributed.
Check out programs like Food Is Free that helps communities grow and share fresh food.
Donate to Animal Rescue Organizations
Certain animal shelters can use excess fruit and veggies to feed plant-eating animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, parrots, iguanas and turtles. Check with your local shelters to see if they have these types of animals before bringing over your produce.
Save Your Seeds
It?s not a loss if your crops have become over-mature or gone to seed. That?s a great time to keep them for harvesting seeds for next year.
Another option is to start a seed library for your local community. Shareable has detailed instructions on how to create your own seed lending library.
Recycle Your Produce
There?s no shame in rounding up your bolted lettuce and the zucchinis that somehow grew 3 feet long, and tossing them on your compost pile. All their goodness will go towards nourishing next year?s bountiful crop.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.