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Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Herbs! Oh My!

Updated: Jun 3

5/06/2024

Just Say "No!" to Desperation Giving

Are you dodging neighbors bearing zucchini? Or are YOU the gardener that your neighbors are dodging?


Twenty years ago, we chuckled about the stealth employed by George, our elderly neighbor across the street, who used to drop some monster zucchini on our porch while we were all at work and school. Last summer, I practically assaulted several neighbors who were simply stepping out innocently into the backyard, mowing the grass, or returning from a run with Sungold and Black Cherry tomatoes. Even the poor college student across the street didn’t escape the onslaught of the cherry tomatoes. Had I become a less stealthy George, rest his soul?


There is a better way. With just a bit of planning and time, there are other places to donate your extra garden produce without making your neighbors run for cover.


Gardens for Good

One of our community service projects here in Ramsey County—Gardens for Good—collects produce from Master Gardener volunteers each week to distribute to the residents of public housing in St. Paul. We encourage them to bring extra fruits, vegetables, and even flowers to the Maplewood Extension office, "the Barn" every Thursday beginning June 20 between 12 PM and 1 PM. Volunteers then help operate a free "farmers market" for residents of Wilson Hi-Rise.


Grow and Give

Another opportunity to donate in Ramsey County is Every Meal’s "Grow and Give" program. This year (2024) Grow and Give accepts produce from July 1 until October 8 on Mondays from 9 AM–2 PM and Tuesdays from 9 AM–12 PM. Every Meal assembles all donations into produce bags that are distributed to children and families in their network of school and community partners.


You can deliver your produce to Every Meal located at 2723 Patton Road in Roseville. The program asks that you first email the Program Team at program@everymeal.org with a brief donation description to coordinate your drop-off. Go to Grow and Give Produce for more information.


Keystone Food Shelves

If you’ve worked in the Master Gardener Demonstration gardens at the Maplewood Extension office (that Barn again!), you know that the produce grown and harvested there is donated to the Keystone Food Shelf at 1800 University Ave W, St. Paul. In fact, Keystone will accept any fresh garden produce that is donated!


Donations should be dropped off Monday - Friday from 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM and on Wednesday evenings until 6:00 pm. Visit Keystone Food Shelves for more information on their hours and location.


Other food shelves in Ramsey County may also be able to accept your fresh produce. Go to Food Shelves in Ramsey County to find contact information for food shelves near your home or community garden.


Keep It Clean

This is very important: be sure to follow guidelines for donating fresh produce. The University of Minnesota Extension has an excellent summary of best sanitation practices both during and after harvesting. Go to U of M Extension Guidelines for Donating Produce to learn or review basic sanitation practices.


Please consider sharing your bounty with those whose circumstances may not allow the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables. Your neighbors will thank you!

 

Additional Resources

About the Author

Laurel Watt loves trying new plants and is especially fond of collecting different cultivars of clematis and heuchera. She has been with the Ramsey Country Master Gardener Volunteer Program since 2020.



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