There are many benefits to growing your own food in a backyard garden. Early in the summer, many of us are able to keep up with what our gardens produce as we take our precious products from the garden directly to our tables. As the summer goes on, keeping up can become a challenge. We check the garden before heading out of town on vacation and realize there are many things that are ripe and ready for use but we don't have time to do anything with them. Or, perhaps our green thumbs have produced more than we can keep up with at the table and our storage space is already filled to capacity. What are we to do?
Here are 3 creative ideas to help you put your extra garden produce to good use.
There comes a time in almost every gardeners summer when there is more produced than can be used. Making salsa or properly storing, freezing or canning the extras are certainly a traditional and recommended option. However, if you are short on time or storage space, here are 3 creative ideas for your extra produce that you may not have thought of.
- Give them away – Tough financial times may make fresh produce hard to afford for some of your neighbors. Offering your surplus provides the perfect opportunity for those that might really have a need or just a desire to include fresh produce in their diet a reality with dignity still in tact. Place your extra produce by your mailbox with a large sign that says "FREE" and see just how fast your surplus disappears.
- Donate to a nearby food pantry or homeless shelter – Most community food banks or food pantries offer canned vegetables if any at all to those that come in need of food. Drop in shelters rarely provide fresh vegetables as part of their meal offerings for those that come in search of a cool and dry place to stay and receive a meal. Making fresh produce available to outreach opportunities like these in your community will get your extras in the hands of those that need it and will put a smile on your face at the same time because you were able to make a difference. Check with local outreach organizations and churches in your community to find a local food pantry or drop in center. Feed America is the nation's leading domestic hunger relief charity and their website can help you find a food bank that serves your community.
- Use your social networking connection – Send out a "tweet" or post a status update letting your local networking friends know you have fresh produce to spare. Encourage those that are interested to come by and pick it up. Better yet, invite them to come and pick it for themselves which saves you some work! What a great and creative way to socialize AND provide your extra produce to a local friend or acquaintance.
What other creative ideas do you have for garden surplus this summer?
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