Our episode on Gardening for the Hungry premiered today. And within hours, the questions started coming. Several were like one I’ve pasted below. It’s great if you already have a garden and want to share the bounty. But what if you don’t have the garden yet and few funds to get it going? Stan raises a great question and
I forward this email to ampleharvest.org founder Gary Oppenheimer thinking he’d have an idea for a good general referral. Much to my surprise and pleasure, Gary responded directly to Stan with some really helpful information that can apply no matter where you live or what the organization. Here’s Stan’s email and Gary’s reply.
Stan’s email to GGW:
Good morning. Saw the show for the first time and loved it. My synagogue is starting to plan for a community garden to be used to supplement the local food bank. Do you know of any grants that we could apply for? Thanks -Stan
My email to Gary:
Gary, this is a good question. Can you suggest a general referral since we’re getting a few questions like this and I’m sure there will be more? Thanks so much.
If you watched the episode, it doesn’t take long to know that Gary is passionate about ampleharvest.org. And what you saw in the show of our interview with Gary is only a drop in the bucket of what we had. This man is on a mission. Get him talking about his favorite topic and he barely takes a breath. He starts early and rarely stops. But I know he stops long enough to eat because when he wasn’t talking about his project, we were talking about food—another topic near and dear to us both.
Gary’s direct reply to Stan (edited to main points):
…as for grants, that is not my specialty, but here are a few ideas:
1. Before you do anything, have the soil tested by the local cooperative extension. It’ll only cost a few bucks but it’ll make a huge difference in the amount and quality of the food you’ll produce. Also, find a local Master Gardener who can help guide you through the project. Again, the cooperative extension can help.
2. Visit http://communitygarden.org … they have a lot of info that’ll help you.
3. As for the grants, it may be easier for you to ask local big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, etc.) for material such as fencing than to ask for cash.
4. Find a local stable that’ll donate the horse poop… it’ll be all the free fertilizer you need… and they’re usually happy to get rid of it. Just make sure it “cooks” for a few months first.
5. Ask the town DPW for wood chips for pathways and mulch. Every time a storm knocks down a tree, you’ll have a chance to recycle it.
6. Get the word out on Craig’s list detailing exactly what you need… and why … you may be surprised how many people will be happy to unload the unused tools in the garage as well as the coils of chicken wire etc. they are no longer using.
7. As for the seeds, check out http://www.freeseeds.us/index.php … you may be able to get them for free there if the big box stores can’t help.
When I ran the community garden here in West Milford, our annual budget was in the several hundreds of dollars… not a lot. I believe creativity and determination beats cents and dollars every time…
Lastly, please tell all of the people in your synagogue… and community about AmpleHarvest.org. The more excess fresh food we can get into food pantries, the healthier the people and the planet will be.
And that my friends is just one example of how we help our neighbors in need while growing a greener world. Going the extra mile as Gary did, (and does) to provide the tools and information needed to make it happen.