We are about to begin round two of our garden for 2015. We’ve had a break where we’re not bringing in much harvest and it’s been nice. But I just sowed a whole bunch of fall seeds so we’ll be having more to harvest soon. This week our theme for National Organic Harvest Month is sharing the harvest. There are so many great ways to share the garden harvest with friends, neighbors and even strangers.
Offer your extra produce to guests when they visit. I love sending visitors home with some fruits or veggies when I have extra. Just be sure that you aren’t forcing it on them.
Take your extra goodies to church or work. There are many gardeners in our church and they will often bring their extras and bless others with them. But if you do this, be sure to take home whatever others don’t take. You don’t want to leave a “mess” for others to clean up. That really isn’t a blessing.
Preserve some of the extra and give it as gifts. Each year we give jam to our children’s Awana leaders and all the families at co-op. Many people don’t feel comfortable preserving food but love to get it as gifts.
Donate the extras to your local food bank. Some food banks won’t take perishable items, which is a shame, so do your research before taking a load over. If you don’t know if there are any food banks in your area, check out Ample Harvest to find out.
Call your local nursing homes and ask if they would like some fresh produce. They normally have meals planned out weeks in advance but I know some who would love to be able to squeeze some fresh vegetables or fruit into the plan.
Don’t forget your local homeless shelters or women’s shelters. Many times these places are underfunded and do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, because they are very transient places, it is hard to for those running the food service to justify purchasing fresh produce because they may have 20 residents one day but only 10 a few days later and so they just stick with non perishable food.
Start a FREE produce stand in your yard. People put free stuff out on the curb all the time, why not put your extra produce out on a table and bless your neighbors. It might take them a while to get used to it but I’m sure they will appreciate your generosity. Who knows how your neighborhood will change because of it.
Do a little bartering. Sharing doesn’t always have to be one way. I’ve traded produce for many cool things, like comfrey rootstock, homemade balms and lotions and dried medical herbs. You have to be open and willing to ask. We’re hoping to one day have our fruit trees producing well enough that we can barter for our meat.
Send a care package to a friend. Depending on the produce you might just be able to send the fresh produce but you might have to preserve it first. My mother in law has fun memories of sending boxes of permissions “back to the folks” when she and my father in law were stationed in California. This spring a dear friend sent our family some stewed rhubarb because we had never tasted rhubarb. It’s a common thing in her neck of the woods and a rarity in mind. My family loved it and we’ve had to put limits on how much one person can eat when we open a jar. This was such a treat for our family.
Use your extras to teach other. It’s really important that we pass our skills and knowledge onto others and when we have extra produce is a great time to do it. You can get some help in the kitchen canning, freezing and dehydrating and the others can learn a new skill. But preserving skills aren’t the only thing that we can teach. When we have a bounty and share it, people get to taste the difference between store bought produce and really fresh produce. Hopefully, that will be part of their journey to being growing some of their own food and sharing with others.
September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, I’ve teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Janet from Timber Creek Farm
How do you share your extra harvest?