The final collection site has closed for the season. All but the most diehard of gardeners are cleaning up their garden plots and preparing for Montgomery County’s off season so it’s a perfect time to reflect on the 2021 growing season.
Success can be measured many ways but anyway you look at it, this all volunteer organization has shown what is capable when communities pull together to help one another. First, let’s talk about the numbers:
- 16 community collection sites
- 1 CSA box donation site
- 5 Montgomery Parks Community Gardens
- 1 Master Gardener run youth garden
- 1 upcounty growing facility
- 60 plus backyard gardeners
- 1 orchard and 5 farmers market vendors
as well as numerous drivers, packagers, weighers all contributed to the donations of over 15,000 pounds of nutritious super-fresh produce over the last 6 months to 12 food assistance providers including 3 county food hubs, 1 low income senior apartment complex and thousands of families in need.
We also shared over 1200 vegetable and herb seedlings with gardeners, school and community groups, distributed over 800 seed packets and held clinics to provide over 120 families with the supplies to grow their own salad gardens in up-cycled plastic crates. An additional 125 food insecure families received grow bags, potting mix, plants and other supplies to grow their own vegetables. Our monthly Zoom garden talks provided by MoCo Master Gardeners ran from March through October and focused on timely topics in a friendly forum for all that logged in.
Although the numbers are impressive, to me they’re not the strongest measure of success. It’s hard to put a value on the following:
- Donations from the Krishna temple went to support food outreach at the Sikh Spiritual Center and the hub at the Seneca Creek Christian Church
- A crate garden recipient in a youth gang prevention program said she would rather spend more time in the garden than just hanging out and getting into trouble
- A gardening couple decided to turn their home garden into a grow-to donate mission after hearing about HarvestShare
- Several Parks Community Gardens adopted abandoned plots and as teams planted, nurtured, harvested and donated what these plots produced in addition to caring for and donating from their own gardens
- Freshly grown produce was often redistributed to those in need within hours of being harvested
- Because of our close connections with the FAPs we served, we were able to direct culturally desired produce to the most appropriate provider
- HarvestShare was able to support another local growing initiative, MoCo Grows, by donating 100 tomato and pepper plants as well as purchasing the potting mix needed for this project
Thank you for being part of our community and helping HarvestShare to reduce food insecurity in Montgomery County Maryland. We’re taking a short break to plan for a bigger and better 2022 and will resume our gardening talks in February.
Be safe, be well, be kind. Cat Kahn, Founder