Sharing your garden’s bounty with local food pantry


Cat's First Garden: Lettuce, Spinach, Garlic and Onion

Cat’s First Garden: Lettuce, Spinach, Garlic and Onion

By Catherine Haug, September 7, 2014 (photo, right, of Cat’s first garden, by Cat)

Many of us in the Flathead valley have gardens (or participate in a community garden). At the same time, many are going hungry. There’s a great program that connects these two groups in the same community: Ample Harvest.

Mercola featured this in an article this week (1), that includes an hour-long YouTube video about Ample Harvest, with Gary Oppenheimer (2). Mercola’s emphasis in his article is two fold:

  • the ‘feel good’ aspect of helping to feed the hungry; and
  • solving food waste.

If you’re like me, you grow more food than your family can eat. What do you do with the excess? I give to neighbors and friends, but there is still food left over which inevitably ends up in my compost pile to nurture next year’s garden. While this is better than throwing it in the garbage, there is a better use for your leftover bounty.

Read on for a program to minimize food waste and hunger in your community, and about the partnership between the Bigfork/Ferndale Community Garden and the Bigfork Food Pantry.

A technical solution to food waste and hunger in your community

The following is from Mercola’s article ((1) emphasis is mine).

Rather than buying and distributing food, the organization [] connects growers with local food pantries. In this way, food can be more efficiently distributed to those who need it most, while eliminating waste all at the same time. If you’re not a gardener, I would suggest passing this information along to friends and neighbors who do garden, or better yet, your local farmer. In his talk at Google [see video, below (2)], Oppenheimer discusses:

  1. Food waste
  2. The impact of food waste
  3. The solution to food waste and hunger
  4. Future developments—combating waste and hunger on an even larger scale

Bigfork/Ferndale Community Garden and Bigfork Food Pantry

The Bigfork/Ferndale Community Garden at Episcopal Church in Ferndale actively dedicates a percentage of the garden plots to our local food bank. When “you purchase a plot, you commit to growing another plot for the Food Pantry, and also two hours a month to the overall garden, in addition to maintaining your own plot” (3). Additionally, unpaid-for plots are maintained by Michelle Patterson (Chairperson) and MonaRae Tuhy (Master Gardener) for the Bigfork Food Pantry (3). You can do this too with the surplus from your own garden!

Another wonderful benefit of joining a community garden is the gardening community that forms naturally between the members. Experienced gardeners can help the less-experienced; you make new friends, and you get the wonderful pleasure of eating food you grew yourself.

If you are interested in buying a plot for next year, contact Michelle Patterson (406-837-0982) or MonaRae Tuhy (406-837-9979). Plots cost $15 for the season if purchased before June 1, 2015; after that date, the price is $20.

See also related post: Bigfork/Ferndale Community Garden, 2014 Update.


  1. Mercola on Food waste and Ample Harvest:
  2. Gary Oppenheimer, “ A Tech Solution to Food Waste & Hunger” video:  ‘
  3. Bigfork Eagle, July 30, 2014 edition, Growing Community; Community garden thrives in Ferndale, bu Sally Finneran

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