FARGO — Have you ever been thrilled about your bumper crop of garden vegetables, but then felt badly because some of it went to waste?

Sometimes our gardens produce much more than we can eat, and friends and neighbors can only take so much of our giveaway. We know there are hungry people who would love the chance for fresh, homegrown garden vegetables, but we don’t always have the time to track down who or where to donate.

The problem is now solved by local Master Gardeners who are making it convenient for us to drop off our extra produce, and they’ll transport it to people in need. The program is called Veggies for the Pantry, and it's spearheaded by Cass County Master Gardeners Joan Faust, Carol Burley and Vickie Hardy.

In this wildly successful and impactful program, Master Gardeners staff collection points across the Fargo-Moorhead area on Monday evenings so gardeners can donate their surplus vegetables and fruits to benefit the Fargo Emergency Food Pantry and Moorhead’s Dorothy Day Food Pantry. Last year, they collected 6,300 pounds of fruits and vegetables.

The Master Gardener program Veggies for the Pantry makes it easy for gardeners to donate extra garden produce to local food pantries. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
The Master Gardener program Veggies for the Pantry makes it easy for gardeners to donate extra garden produce to local food pantries. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

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Esther McGinnis, North Dakota State University Extension Horticulturist and director of the Master Gardener program, says 1 in 10 people in North Dakota depend upon food pantries to keep hunger at bay, including an increasing number of children and senior citizens. McGinnis notes that food pantries receive large donations of canned and boxed goods, but quality fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet are typically in short supply.

In 2018, Master Gardeners across North Dakota donated or collected 51,520 servings of fruits and vegetables to feed the hungry.

This year in the Fargo-Moorhead metro, area gardeners can take their extra abundance to Master Gardener collection points in five locations, every Monday evening (until fall frost) from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The locations are:

  • The Bowler, 2630 S. University Drive, Fargo
  • Longfellow Elementary School recycling parking lot, 2939 Elm St. N., Fargo
  • Maplewood Park parking area, 1504 17th Ave. E., West Fargo
  • Community Presbyterian Church, 702 Sheyenne St., West Fargo
  • Trinity Lutheran Church, 210 Seventh St. S., Moorhead

Look for the “Veggies for the Pantry” signs and flags.

NDSU Field Day

Anyone who enjoys trees, shrubs and fruit and vegetable growing, or would just enjoy a wonderful horticultural tour, will literally have a field day next week at the North Dakota State University Horticulture Research Farm near Absaraka, N.D.

The 80-acre farm includes the Dale E. Herman Research Arboretum, which is the largest collection of trees and shrubs in the northern Great Plains. I'm looking forward to this year’s Field Day program, which will feature fruit research including hardy grape breeding and evaluation of raspberry and Juneberry cultivars. Vegetable gardeners will learn about organic weed control methods and how to extend the growing season by one month or more using high tunnels.

Field Day participants will ride on tractor-pulled wagons. A light dinner will be available after 5 p.m. until supplies run out. The program will end with an arboretum tree walk at 6 p.m. led by Todd West, NDSU plant science professor, and Greg Morgenson, research specialist.

If you go

What: NDSU Horticulture Research Field Day

When: 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, with a riding tour beginning at 4 p.m.

Where: NDSU Horticulture Research Farm near Absaraka, N.D.

Directions from Fargo: Take Interstate 94 and turn north at Wheatland (Exit 322). Follow the pavement to the north. The road curves to the west shortly after passing through Wheatland. Turn north (right) on Cass County Road 5. At the Absaraka corner, follow the posted signs to the research farm, which is bordered by trees. Allow about one hour drive time from Fargo.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at kinzlerd@casscountynd.gov or call 701-241-5707.