This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
All over the South Sound, people are plotting. Some have even started taking the first steps in carrying out their plans.
They’re gardeners. They have green thumbs, and they know how to use them. In some cases, only too well.
You know who you are. You come to work in late summer and early fall bearing the fruits of your harvest in sack after sack. Or you leave bags of produce on your neighbors’ front doorsteps and sneak away.
Friends and co-workers take your tomatoes, your apples and zucchini, sometimes more to make you happy than anything else. After all, there’s only so much one can do with several foot-long zukes. Often the produce goes to waste.
That doesn’t have to happen. Pierce County food banks coordinated by the Emergency Food Network are trying hard to diversify what they can distribute beyond starches like rice and pasta and canned goods that often contain a lot of salt. They’d like to give out more fresh fruits and vegetables, and that’s where home gardeners come in.
Excess produce can be taken to any local food bank, and gardeners who think they’d like to donate can start planning now. EFN’s Plant an Extra Row project encourages home gardeners to set aside a row – or maybe two – for produce to be given to food banks.
Another program, the Pierce County Gleaning Project, provides a way for people with fruit trees to put their excess harvest to good use.
Too often fruit just falls to the ground and rots – which can attract rodents and other pests. A better option is for homeowners to register their pesticide-free fruit trees and berry bushes with the project at www.piercecountygleaningproject.org. When the fruit is ripe, volunteers will come out and pick it for distribution at food banks and hot meal sites.
With the downturn in the economy, Pierce County’s food banks, hot meal sites and shelters are experiencing a surge in demand for food. More than half of those being helped are children or senior citizens.
Programs like Plant an Extra Row and the gleaning project are easy ways for people to put their green thumbs to work in a way that helps many in the community.