For the last several months, AmpleHarvest.org has been running a monthly photo contest on our facebook page (see the bottom of this blog post for info about this month’s contest!) We thought it would be a fun way to reward those hard working gardeners across the US who are growing and sharing their food. What I didn’t expect was how rewarding it would be for us to get to know so many of the wonderful and inspirational gardeners out there. At the close of our October contest, the winning photo (with the most votes) came from Fort Wayne, Indiana, via a very cool program called the Fresh Food Initiative. I was so inspired by the work happening there that I thought I’d share their story with you.
The Fresh Food Initiative is a project of the Catherine Kasper Place. CKP is a ministry sponsored by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, which provides programs, services and opportunities that advance the integration of immigrants, refugees and political asylees into the community of northeast Indiana.
The Fresh Food Initiative set up a neighborhood farm across the street from a public housing addition. FFI Director, Holly Chaille said, “our goal is to provide a safe, local area for refugees to grow cultural-appropriate food for themselves and for market. We also provide education on pest management, succession and square-foot planting, and many other farm related topics”.
According to Chaille:
The farm holds plots for the Burmese residents as well as raised beds that grew the produce for 36 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members. Each resident’s plot is 400-square feet and they are all grown organically. Most of this year’s growers were women with children.
These growers fed 117 family members with their produce, and many also sold at our weekly markets, bringing in supplemental income. They reported the experience of growing in a community garden setting was not only financially and physically beneficial for them, but they had less stress and a more peaceful feeling when on the farm. One woman said she likes to sit in the shade and enjoy being happy.
Our CSA membership included four non-profit subscribers who each serve meals or hand out produce to their clients. We grew an additional 2,000 – square feet of produce to donate to them. Over the season we donated a total of 1,625 pounds of produce to these partners.
What a cool program, right? These gardeners are growing and sharing their food and now, as a little gift of gratitude for what they are doing, they will be receiving a $300 gift certificate from Gardener’s Supply Company to purchase tools and accessories for their community garden. Thanks for all you’re doing over at the Fresh Food Initiative!
November Photo contest: Centerpieces for Pantries
We’ve got two more $300 gift certificates to Gardener’s Supply Company to give away before the end of the year. We’ll be running two more photo contests on our Facebook page but these contests will be a little bit different. Our November and December contests will focus on our Centerpieces for Pantries program.
With so many food and family-centered holidays coming up at the end of the year, we’re encouraging folks to consider how their holiday centerpieces can help those in need. Instead of buying flowers to put on your table for that special family dinner, why not create a beautiful centerpiece with fresh, whole fruits and vegetables? They are just as beautiful, they last LONGER, and when you’re done with them you can donate the whole centerpiece to your local food pantry. Check out our Pinterest page for some beautiful and inspiring ideas like these:
Whether it’s your whole (un-carved) Halloween pumpkins and gourds, your edible Dia de los Muertos table spread, or some of your Diwali decorations, you can share with those in need when you are done! Be sure to take a photo and submit it to our contest as soon as possible. That way your friends and family can vote each day until the end of the month. The photo with the most votes will win a $300 gift certificate to Gardener’s Supply Company.
You can do the same with your Thanksgiving or Hanukkah centerpieces in our December photo contest! We look forward to seeing your beautiful creations!