Food bank shows planting garden is the way to grow

Generosity and innovation are sprouting at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. With proper gardening and cooperative weather, a new garden at the food bank will brim with radishes in late May.

Kudos to Bobby Smith. The gardener and former sous chef marked Earth Day on Wednesday by planting vegetables at the distribution center at 31st Avenue and Thomas Road. Smith faced space challenges but came up with the idea to use wine barrels. If all goes well, food boxes will go beyond typical non-perishable items to include vegetables. How refreshing.

The garden could not have come at a better time, either. Demand for food at the bank has increased 80 percent. And with more people losing jobs or saving what could have been a donation to a food bank, contributions are harder to come by. The garden, however, can feed the hungry.

Then, there are the healthful benefits. Prices for fresh vegetables can make anyone blanch, even in flush times. Consider the choice many people are making between fresh vegetables, which can spoil quickly, or food items with long shelf lives.

Many people are likely to stretch their dollars by purchasing food items that can turn out several meals versus a few meals with fresh produce. The choice is better for the bottom line but not for bodies skimping on certain nutrients.

A garden can help fill that void. Smith is showing workers how to care for the crops, which will include artichokes, pumpkins, okra, squash, peppers, cucumbers and herbs. The seeds are barely planted, but the garden is already making mouths water.

Gardens are making a comeback. Michelle Obama started a garden at the White House recently. Cave Creek envisions a community garden at the site of its future wastewater plant. And a south Scottsdale woman is looking for land to build one in her community. Smith deserves gratitude for bringing one to ours.

The St. Mary’s Food Bank has a garden. It is time to roll up the sleeves and turn generosity and innovation into vegetables.

http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/PhoenixEditorials/51805

First week of growth!

First week of growth!

Pairing Gardens With Food Banks

Demand at food banks has risen sharply due to the economic crisis. But fresh produce can be difficult to keep in stock at these facilities because of its price and limited shelf life. The Arizona Republic reports on one food bank that has started up its own 21-square-foot community vegetable garden this year, a project headed up by a local chef/gardener. We’ve previously covered other produce-to-food-bank initiatives here in Seattle, including a startup program to distribute seeds and gardening advice at food distribution centers, and efforts to collect fruit tree and garden excess for emergency food services.

But one factor that can put distance between fresh vegetables and the neediest people is lack of access to a kitchen. One thing we’d be interested to see: a shared kitchen facility where people without a home can prepare freshly harvested produce from a community garden. Though certainly not as efficient in terms of scale as a community feeding facility like the Langar in Delhi, it seems that a kitchen for preparing food would provide a bit of dignity, stability and choice in the lives of the people who used it. What do you think? (JL)

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009786.html