Monday, June 22, 2015

It’s ALL Good: Using the Rest of the Plant

There is an abundance of food all around us. Some of it is even getting discarded in the compost pile without even realizing it is food. This time of the year, two of my favorites might be skipped over by other gardeners: garlic scapes and beet greens! Let us take a closer look at how we use them in the kitchen.

Our organic gardening and nutrition education class for the Family Fitness Challenge in Saltville was just the other week. In addition to making our own potting soil and transplanting herbs into pots, we cooked with produce from the garden and introduced folks to a few herbs. Our first, very simple recipe utilized those garlic scapes.

Basic Herb Pesto - just blend it all together!
1 cup fresh herbs (cilantro or basil)
2-3 Garlic scapes
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (adjust to get the right paste-like consistency in the blender)
Salt and pepper to taste

To help increase fruit and vegetable consumption, we used spaghetti squash to sample pestos with this basic recipe using different herbs. Spaghetti squash is a fantastic alternative to regular spaghetti with all the nutritional benefits of being a vegetable. It also is one of the longest storing winter squashes in my experience; these made it almost ten months! I cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, cover with oil or butter, and bake for 30-45 minutes on 350 degrees. I like to use olive oil because it has a healthier fat profile than other options and adds great flavor. Just scrape the squash out with a fork, mix in the pesto, and enjoy!

I love using cilantro in this recipe not just for the flavor but also the health benefits and ease of growing. It self-sows well and produces the whole growing season. A couple tablespoons a day can also help with cleansing heavy metals.

Beet Greens are another great green to steam, saute, or cook just like kale, collards, etc. The baby greens are also great in salads and eaten fresh. Don't let these delicious foods go to waste!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Libby

The true backbone of the success of Sprouting Hope has always been and always will be our volunteers. To help show this, let us introduce some of our outstanding, dedicated, and inspiring volunteers that make our garden what it is. I am delighted to feature my good friend Libby as our first volunteer spotlight! I plan to interview a couple other volunteers this year; stay posted!

How did you get involved with the garden?

"I meet Jason at Food and Fellowship and got some food and a pamplet. I asked if I could help!"

What first attracted you to get involved?

"Being with good people, with community and raising vegetables that I knew was healthy. I can't afford all those vegetables that are in the grocrey store. The garden enables me to get them. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to get them very often. That is what the garden is for!"

How long have you been involved in the garden?

"A year."

How have you become more involved in the management of the garden? What committee(s) do you serve on?

"I'm a member of outreach committeee and I went to all the meetings to form a partnership with the State Hospital."

What is your favorite vegetable?


Tell me about your favorite garden experiences.

"Harvesting tomatoes! Washing vegetables and spashing friends in the process. The commoradory. Helping others like seniors and low income people, like myself. Showing that we're of value!"

What would you tell someone who has never been to the garden to get them to come join us?

"If you want to have friends, fellowship, and reap the benefits of a good garden, this is the place to do it! It really is!"

Anything else to add?

"When I'm out there, I'm at peace. I'm with God; I have no worries."

Monday, June 8, 2015

Defining a Equitable Food Distribution System

One of the most common questions we hear is, "where does all the produce go?" Here is our food distribution plan.

Sprouting Hope Community Garden provides fresh produce in a fair way that ensures that people volunteering in the garden and people who are unable to garden themselves have fair access to healthy food.

The garden is divided into two sections: program group space and community space. The program group sections are managed by the program coordinator and the participating program groups. All food grown in these sections is distributed directly to the program participants after harvest. Program groups are encouraged to develop a fair system for diverse dietary interests and for irregular participation in the program. Program groups should be given the opportunity to donate some of their produce to the community through the avenues mentioned below. Program participants may also volunteer and receive produce from the community section.

The produce from the community garden space will be distributed in two ways:
  • Garden Volunteers: All volunteers in the garden may take a fair portion of the harvest each time they volunteer, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Sprouting Hope seeks to involve and serve low income communities and outreach efforts should be made to ensure this. All volunteers are encouraged to take food for family and friends. Volunteers who help in the beginning of the season but are unable to volunteer during the prime harvest period may have access to a fair share.
  • People in Need: At no cost, people in need of fresh, healthy produce may share the harvest through the following channels. Sprouting Hope may bring produce to different places each week and quantity will vary seasonally.
    • FUMC Food Pantry, 115 S Church Street, 11:30am, 3rd Thursday of the month
    • The Senior Citizen’s Center, 307 S Park St, 11:30am, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday
    • Food & Fellowship 115 S Church Street 11:30am, every Thursday
    • Impact International Food Pantry 704 S Main St, 4pm, 4th Saturday of the month
    • Smyth County Free Clinic 1583 N Main St, along with nutrition education
    • Church Leaders may distribute produce to members of their congregation in need
    • Occasional Events such as the Marion Farmers’ Market and nutrition education programs