Information courtesy of CSU Extension
Are you a backyard gardener with a heart for your community? As you plan to plant this year, consider tending enough to share for the third season of Grow and Give.
Grow & Give volunteers grow and donate fresh fruits and vegetables for statewide distribution to people in need. The program began as a project of the Colorado Master Gardener Program, a program of CSU Extension. Today, participation is open to any Colorado gardener.
Modeled after backyard victory gardens that boosted food supplies and morale during World Wars I and II, the project sprouted in Spring 2020 in response to skyrocketing food needs among people coping with unemployment and other pandemic hardships.
It was so successful in its first season that Grow & Give returned with a broader goal of boosting food security in Colorado communities beyond the needs of the pandemic.
Last year, nearly 900 volunteer gardeners signed up across the state, nearly 40 from Douglas County. In Douglas County alone, gardeners grew and donated more than 1,900 pounds of produce while across the state gardeners in 25 counties contributed more than 55,000 pounds in over 1,600 individual donations. Donations ranged from a pound or two of greens or berries to hundreds of pounds at a time, often from community garden efforts.
The fresh fruits and vegetables went to food banks, pantries, homeless shelters, and other nonprofits for distribution to individuals and families facing hunger and food shortages.
The number of participants and food donations is expected to continue. Already in 2022, gardeners in Douglas County have signed up to participate and have begun donating early-season produce like leafy greens and radishes—nearly 70 pounds as of the end of May.
To support backyard gardeners, the Colorado Master Gardener Program offers:
- An up-to-date website, GrowandGiveColorado.org, with print and video resources about growing and donating vegetables.
- A free, 85-page Colorado Vegetable Guide available for download in English and Spanish. The guide offers crop-by-crop guidance for gardeners; learn to grow everything from asparagus to zucchini.
- A new mobile app that connects gardeners to hunger-relief organizations. It’s offered by the Colorado nonprofit Fresh Food Connect.
For more information, gardening resources, and to volunteer with Grow & Give, visit growandgivecolorado.org.