Gardeners by nature are very generous and love to share their garden harvest bounty with others. Visit a gardener during the growing season and you are bound to come home with bags of fresh produce from their garden.
Every growing season is different. You plan the garden and estimate what you need to grow for fresh eating and preserving. Some years your garden may struggle with weather or different pest problems, while others may produce bumper crops.
If you are lucky to have bumper crops, and have preserved all the harvest you can store, and the garden is still producing, consider sharing the harvest with others.
My first year of gardening, I had a bumper crop of string beans. I love string beans but even after eating my fill and canning for winter food storage, I still had an overabundance.
I mentioned this to one of my friends at work and discovered that she was swamped with cucumbers. I wanted to try making pickles, but didn’t have enough cucumbers from my own plants. So we agreed to do an exchange. Soon we discovered that many of our coworkers grew gardens too and wanted to join in with our produce swap.
Eventually, we approached management and asked if we could setup a produce exchange table in the corner of the break room. The only concern they had was spoiled food. We agreed to clean up the table each day before we went home.
It worked wonderfully. The morning hours were dedicated to swapping with other gardeners, by afternoon the table was opened up to those who didn’t grow their own. Most days, there wasn’t anything left to clean up at the end of the day. It was so nice to know that nothing went to waste.
Some of us even extended the produce exchange table concept beyond the excess harvest and swapped seeds, transplants, and jars of preserved foods such as jams, jellies and pickles. It was a wonderful way to diversify our harvests and pantry. We even managed to inspire at least two co-workers to start their own garden.
4 Ways to Share the Garden Harvest Bounty
What do you do after you have preserved all the harvest that you can and the garden is still producing?
Even when you take the time to try to estimate how many plants to grow for fresh produce and enough to preserve, often times there is a bumper crop of one thing or another. Here are some ways to share the garden harvest bounty instead of tossing the extras into the compost bin:
Give It Away
Offer your surplus produce to your family, friends, and neighbors. I have a friend who makes up CSA boxes to share with her elderly neighbors. She keeps notes on what they enjoy so when she has extras, she knows who will put them to good use.
Organize a Bumper Crop Swap
Organize a harvest exchange table at work, school, church, or even in your neighborhood. This can be as simple as a small table setup in the corner of a room that people can leave their extras. I know of one group of gardeners who gets together once a month in the summer time for a potluck meal. Everyone brings a dish made from something they grew or raised along with boxes of extra garden harvests to swap among the group.
Donate to a Local Food Pantry
When you grow more than you can use, preserve, or give to friends, consider donating to your local food pantry, shelter, or soup kitchen. Look up food pantries in your area by zip code at Ampleharvest.com.
Consider canning extra homemade jams, jellies, salsa, pickles, and tomato sauce to make gift basket for holidays, housewarming, or other occasions.
How do you make use of all your garden harvest bounty? Let me know in the comments.
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- Canning Green Beans for Food Storage
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- How to Make and Can Applesauce
- 3 Ways to Preserve Peppers