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ASK EARTHA: Grow to Share

 In Ask Eartha

Dear Eartha, my garden is growing like crazy this summer! I don’t think I will be able to eat all of my veggies. Is there something I can do with the extras?

There is only so much fresh spinach one person can use and freeze! Now that you’ve realized you won’t be able to eat your garden’s abundance, I applaud you for ensuring the extras do not go to waste.

Thankfully, Summit County has an amazing program called Grow to Share, through which gardeners can donate surplus to local families in need. This is a rewarding opportunity to minimize food waste and share your hard work with our community.

Grow for you, Grow to Share

A partnership between High Country Conservation Center (HC3), Summit County Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), Grow to Share provides local produce, nutritional education, and hands-on experiences to qualified families in Summit County.

In 2019, Grow to Share distributed 33 varieties of produce totaling more than 420 pounds! While a bag of spinach here or there may not seem like much, it adds up to a lot of food not wasted and redirected into the right hands.

Why Donate?

Each day, thousands of our neighbors struggle to put healthy, fresh meals on their tables. In 2017, the Summit Daily stated that an estimated 3,400 Summit County residents regularly struggle with food insecurity. Fast forward three years and add a global pandemic, that number is likely much higher, and many families are facing increased hardships.

Home and community gardeners are already supporting their health and the environment by growing their food. By taking this one step further, and donating any extra food, gardeners can also improve the health and quality of life of our community.

How to Donate

Whether you are a home gardener or have a plot at the community gardens, anyone can donate to Grow to Share! Simply harvest your produce, deliver it to one of the community gardens mentioned below, bag and label produce, and know that you are making a difference.

When harvesting, make sure to use the appropriate tools. Harvesting in the early morning or late evening is best to prevent wilting and for capturing the peak flavor from herbs. Shake off excess dirt from root veggies and try to avoid storing wet produce in the bags provided. This ensures that you are donating the best-looking produce that can last as long as possible. Small knives work great for greens, cucumbers, and squash, whereas gardening scissors work best for more delicate plants and herbs. Other vegetables – carrots, radishes, and peas – can simply be pulled or snapped off gently.

Produce collection coolers will be dropped off at Nancy’s Garden in Frisco and the Breckenridge Community Garden. The coolers, located in the shed at the gardens, will be accessible each Monday for community and home gardeners to drop off excess produce for donation.

Bags, labels, and pens are provided at each site. Place harvested produce into the bags and fill out the labels. Leave produce in the cooler by the times noted below and know that your excess will be donated that afternoon to WIC families and the FIRC. If you happen to miss the Tuesday morning deadlines, you can bring your produce directly to the Dillon Valley Elementary School Garden between 8am and 6:30pm on Tuesdays.

Have your produce bagged, labeled, and stored before these pick-up times:

Nancy’s Garden
83 Nancy’s Place, Frisco, CO
Tuesdays by 8am

Breckenridge Community Garden
107 Denison Placer Rd. Breckenridge
Tuesdays by 7am

Dillon Valley Elementary Garden
108 Deer Path Rd. Dillon
Tuesdays 8am through 6:30pm

Everyone deserves to have access to healthy and nutritious foods. When you have a successful harvest and donate the extras, you make a difference in our community. Consider sowing a few additional seeds to donate each season, and if you ever have a runaway snap pea plant or abundant crop, do not let it go to waste!

For those who didn’t plant a garden this summer and still want to help, visit HighCountryConservation.org to learn more and get involved.

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