So you’ve eaten all the zucchini you can handle, put some in the freezer, made relish, but you STILL can’t use it all? Are your tomatoes rotting on the vine or your abundant kale patch stressing you out? Don’t let it rot in your garden! Even though you are sick of it, there are plenty of people who will appreciate it!
You have too much zucchini but your pumpkin didn’t make it? Find a friend who has some pumpkins and wants to trade with you. You both win. Some friends in my community have a harvest barter party every fall where you can bring your excess and trade it for something different. People bring fresh vegetables, preserves, fish, homemade wine and more. There is food and drink, a fire pit, and music, and people stay to trade tips on growing, catching, and preserving food.
I had a self-serve farm-stand in my garage last summer. It was simply a table with a jar for the money. I put out whatever extras I had and wrote the amount on index cards. Then I put the word out on Facebook telling people what I had. People could stop by anytime and I didn’t have to be there. I put herbs and greens in buckets of water to keep them fresh. I also sold jam, ferments, home-made vinegar, and other odds and ends I happened to have. It was a great way to recover some of the costs of the garden.
Do you have friends or neighbors who don’t have a garden? They might really appreciate some garden fresh vegetables. Pack a bag and drop it by. I know my friends are always super appreciative, and sometimes they will come and help me in the garden or bring me some zucchini bread that they made with my zucchini. Recently, I was in Cleveland and a random guy getting out of his car gave me a huge bag of fresh sweet corn from his friend’s farm. For an Alaskan gardener who can’t grow corn, this was like gold and I almost started crying. Make someone happy today.
Many food pantries around the nation now accept fresh food. In fact, it is in high demand and often difficult for them to get. They can get it to people in your community who need it the most. Soup kitchens are another great place to donate fresh food. There was one near me that would take whatever quantity of produce I had. I also connected directly with a low-income, pregnant mom on Facebook that I gave bags of fresh and frozen produce to.
I have a friend who has an amazingly productive garden in Anchorage. He set a box in front of his house where he puts his extra produce and wrote “free” on it. People can come by anytime and take what they want. Interestingly, other gardeners have started adding their vegetables to the box so there is always something available!
Last summer we were selling our house and leaving for the winter, so we had a ton of extra food. In addition to selling, donating and giving it away, we decided to throw a huge party to thank everyone who had helped and supported us through the years. The food was the star of the show, with veggies and dips, different types of salads and sides, vegetable galettes, grilled salmon and caribou kabobs. It was so much fun to prepare and even more fun to enjoy with all our friends.
I consider sharing the abundance to be one of the best parts about having a garden. I enjoy nourishing friends and strangers alike with food I’ve lovingly grown. Some people are astonished at how good real food tastes, and some are even inspired to start growing their own food. It brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.
Sure I always put produce away for the long, cold winter, but it’s better to share carrots fresh out of the ground than to try to get rid of old, dried up ones at the end of the winter. I’ve learned it doesn’t pay to be a hoarder. So get out there and spread the wealth of your abundant harvest!