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Share your garden bounty and help feed local families

A Cass County program makes it easy to donate surplus vegetables in the Fargo-Moorhead area and provide fresh, nutritious food to local families.

Harvest and storage guidelines differ various types of vegetables and fruits.David Samson / The Forum
Through the Veggies for the Pantry initiative, the NDSU Extension Master Gardeners collected and donated over 16,700 pounds of produce in 2021 and provided over 66,000 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Forum file photo
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FARGO — I enjoy beginning our weekly visits with some lighthearted gardening banter, but I’m starting today on a serious note. Anyone who’s bought groceries lately knows the gravity of food price increases. People are struggling, and gardeners can help.

It’s been a rough couple of years and budgets are stretched thin. That’s why there’s been an ongoing push the past several years, both nationally and locally, for gardeners to plant an extra row or two to share with those without gardens, and to help stock food banks and pantries with fresh, nutritious vegetables and fruits.

According to most national and local reports , food pantries are overwhelmed with need. The easiest food to distribute is usually canned goods, pasta, and other shelf-stable items. Fruits and vegetables are often in short supply, yet fresh produce is among the most nutritious food in the human diet.

More than 200 home garden volunteers test various vegetable varieties and report the findings. David Samson / The Forum
Extra garden produce can be donated to help local families get nutritious, fresh food.
Forum file photo
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Vegetable gardeners are well-known for sharing their bounty with friends and neighbors. Beyond the satisfaction of growing fresh produce, it’s heartwarming to know someone else is benefiting from our labor, especially if they’re in particular need.

Many of us with vegetable gardens produce more than enough for ourselves. How do we get our extra garden vegetables to a local food pantry to help others? In Cass County, the North Dakota State University Extension Master Gardeners have a well-organized method, called Veggies for the Pantry.

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The Veggies for the Pantry initiative has a proven record of success. Last year, the Master Gardeners collected and donated over 16,700 pounds of produce which provided over 66,000 servings of fruits and vegetables.

June is a busy month in the vegetable garden.David Samson / The Forum
Collection sites are open Monday evenings throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Forum file photo

Here’s how it works: Master Gardener volunteers set up collection points in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Harwood and Horace on Monday evenings, making it convenient for gardeners to donate their surplus vegetables and fruits. You simply drop off your produce at one of eight collection sites on Monday evenings between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., and the Master Gardeners will transport the collected loads to Fargo’s Emergency Food Pantry and Moorhead’s Dorothy Day House.

Collection continues until the first frost of fall. Besides collecting from home gardeners, the Master Gardeners also collect unsold vegetables from area farmers markets as part of the Veggies for the Pantry program.

The Master Gardeners donating their time to this tremendous effort are Carol Burley, Joan Faust, Vickie Hardy, Lydia Jean Hillerson, Barbara Keyes, Sybil Hopkins, Julie Vetter, Candace Allen, Andy Brownlow, Theresa Gaugler, Connie DeKrey, Debra Miller, Karen Schumacher, Kathy Christianson and Joyce Larson.

Additional garden produce is being collected for distribution to local nonprofit organizations. Thinkstock / Special to The Forum
Extra produce from the garden can help feed local families.
Contributed / Thinkstock

Where to donate

Donations are accepting 6:30-7:30 p.m. every Monday evening, including Labor Day, until fall frost.

  • The Bowler, 2630 S. University Drive, Fargo
  • Longfellow recycle parking lot, 2939 Elm St. N., Fargo
  • Community Presbyterian Church, 702 Sheyenne St., West Fargo
  • Holy Cross Catholic Church, 2711 Seventh St. E., West Fargo
  • Trinity Lutheran Church, 210 Seventh St. S., Moorhead
  • The Village parking lot, 815 37th Ave. S., Moorhead
  • Sheyenne Gardens, 17010 29th St. SE, Harwood, N.D.
  • Main Street water tower, Horace, N.D.
Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at donald.kinzler@ndsu.edu.
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