Toolshed Tips: Share the Harvest

Your August tip: Welcome to the month of plenty! This is the time you’ve been waiting for all season. This beautiful abundance can quickly turn into an overwhelming amount of food, which is a very good thing if you know how to manage it. Here are a few ideas for helping your gardeners get the most from their bountiful harvest, from baseball bat zucchinis to buckets of tomatoes:

August Toolshed

  • Donate to Your Local Food Shelf. Encourage gardeners to share their extra produce by providing contact info, address, and hours for the local food shelf or other hunger-relief agency. Some gardens make this a more coordinated effort, with a “donation day” when gardeners meet at a given time to harvest extra produce, and have a rotating schedule for delivery of the donation. Some communities even have volunteer groups that glean gardens for a good cause.
  • Host a Community Potluck. Have a regular day of the month that gardeners and other community members come together to share a meal. Gardeners can be encouraged to not only come with a dish prepared with garden produce, but bring extra veggies to swap with their neighbors (the tomato guy swaps with the zucchini kids).
  • Hold a Workshop on Preservation. Your gardeners may already know how to deal with a big harvest by spending August and September in their kitchens drying, freezing, and canning. These gardeners, or others in your community with similar knowledge, are incredible resources this time of the season. When putting together workshop opportunities, try to provide multiple entry-points. While some gardeners will be ready for an in-depth canning lesson, others may be more comfortable with some basic freezing and storage tips.
  • Share Recipes. Sometimes the issue is that there’s a lot of food; other times people just might not know what to do with it. Post or email recipes and tips for cooking up the highly productive crops, such as “25 ways to dress up a tomato.” Put a recipe binder in the tool shed and encourage gardeners to add their favorite recipes. Some garden groups develop recipe books that can be shared or even sold as a fundraiser. For those who may not be as comfortable in the kitchen, consider putting on cooking demos with taste tests at the garden or a nearby school/community space.
  • Get Creative! Even though your focus is on food to eat, when the gardens run aplenty, you may want to open your mind to other uses for garden vegetables. Veggies that have grown beyond their days as tasty food can still be used for fun games and craft activities. Try a game of zucchini whiffle ball or squash bowling, or make cucumber beauty masks and root carvings or prints… inspiration awaits!


The Toolshed is a monthly set of tips for garden leaders by VCGN Program Manager Libby Weiland

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