This time of year, gardeners’ thoughts turn to harvesting and enjoying the fruits of their gardening labor. What’s that you say… you didn’t have a good harvest? Okay, so maybe some of you won’t have a “bounty” to share. But there are good reasons for that. Our cool spring weather and a late frost this year pushed back the timeline for many of our vegetables, especially the warm-season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Those who planted before the frost may have lost flower buds or even whole plants to the chilling temperatures, unless they used protective devices such as hot caps or row covers. Many of us delayed our planting, because of the cool weather, until late June or even July. And then it got hot, really hot! In our Washoe County Extension office, we saw many problems with vegetable plants related to temperature stress, which made them more susceptible to insect attack. Some transplants simply stopped growing because of the heat. The problem is, depending on the vegetable variety you planted, those later plantings may not have a chance to grow and produce fruit before we get our first frost.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Many of you got lucky, and will have a decent harvest this fall. And just as many of you planted much more than your family and friends can use. So, aside from canning everything in sight, why not help those less fortunate by donating your extra produce? Many community organizations welcome donations of produce, as long as you call ahead. Find out what kinds of vegetables they can use and how much they can take at one time. Organizations such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters are always in need of fresh products because their clients’ diets may be limited in the nutrients these foods provide. Also find out the days and hours they accept deliveries of perishable products, and how they would like them to be processed. Ask, “Should I wash and trim the produce, or would you prefer them as is?”
If you’re like me, though, you want to get as much out of your garden as you can, so you wait until the last minute before deciding you have too much for your family to use. This is not the ideal situation, and many organizations will reject produce that is overripe. Produce that has matured beyond the ripe stage may not store well, and is often less flavorful and nutritious. So, don’t wait – plan ahead for what and how much you want to donate.
Another thing to keep in mind is whether the charitable organization has storage facilities for produce such as apples, pears, onions, potatoes, or squash, which keep for months. They may be happy to accept these, but you could offer to store them yourself and deliver them as they are needed. Your donation will be much appreciated, and your community will be better off for your generosity.
Following are some of the community organizations that accept donations of food from the public:St. Vincent’s Dining Room 325 Valley Road Reno, NV 89512 Contact: Ray Trevino, 775-329-5363 Committee to Aid Abused Women (CAAW) 1735 Vassar Street Reno, NV 89502 Contact: 775-329-4150 Food Bank of Northern Nevada Please call ahead if you have produce to donate. You will be connected with the agency nearest your neighborhood that accepts donations. Contact: Vinnie Oakes, 775-785-1404
There are many other local charitable agencies and organizations that may accept donations. Please be considerate and call ahead before donating. Some agencies are limited in what and how much they are able to accept. Call before you go to ensure your donation will be of greatest use to your community.