It's spring and time to be thinking about what you're going to plant in your spring/summer garden. For most of us who like to garden, deciding what to plant focuses on what we hope to harvest, prepare, and eventually serve as part of our home cooked meals. It's so much fun to dream about the bountiful garden we'll have with lots of beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce.
This year, University of California Master Gardeners of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties would like to encourage you to think about something additional as you're dreaming about and planning your garden. Think about your neighbors – the ones you know, as well as the ones you've yet to meet. Think about the pleasure of helping to put some of those dream tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce on their plates as well as yours.
Many of our neighbors don't have gardens, and in too many cases, don't have enough food to feed themselves and their families. Whether you see it or not, hunger is a daily reality for too many people in our communities, especially as we reflect on the impact of the pandemic and its economic fallout. It is a crisis that continues.
Starting this year, our gardens can and will make an impact. They'll do this if enough of us decide to participate in the UC Master Gardener initiative, Harvest for Neighbors. This program seeks to build on the long-standing tradition of gardeners sharing their harvest with others. It is a people-helping-people program to assist in feeding the hungry in our own communities.
One of our goals for this program is to encourage our neighbors who have gardens, to plant one extra row in their gardens, and to harvest those extra fruits and vegetables and provide them to local food pantries. Another goal is to encourage groups of people to participate in this effort together. (i.e. garden clubs, youth groups, seniors, schools, community gardens and faith organizations)
Join us and help make this effort successful. We, UC Master Gardeners, will help and support you. Our mission is to help people garden more sustainably and successfully. To make sure that happens, we are going to be liaisons to garden groups. To support you in this effort, you'll have access to all our UC Master Gardener public talks and website resources, and garden groups will each get their own mentor. We'll support you so you can grow extra, and together we will impact hunger and food insecurity in the Bay Area. We can put you in touch with food pantries that welcome home-grown food in your area.
Here's how you can get involved:
• If you want to organize your organization or friends to become a growing group, we'll share with you what other groups are already doing. Please RSVP to UC Master Gardeners: Marvin Goodman and/or Judith Dean.
And, if you want to get a head start, this is the link to the Master Gardener Program of San Mateo and San Francisco counties: http://smsf-mastergardeners.ucanr.edu. You will find classes and information that will help you get ready to expand your garden for yourself and for your neighbors in need.
Marvin Goodman and Judith Dean are UC Master Gardeners who continuously learn and develop their gardening skills and share their knowledge with others. The article was edited by UC Master Gardeners Susan Kornfeld and Cynthia Nations.