Harvest season is upon us! If you planted a garden this summer, you may be starting to reap the benefits of your hard work — maybe even more than you can handle. It’s likely you have a hearty bounty of produce on your hands and not enough mouths to eat it all!
Have no fear! There are several organizations accepting donated produce from backyard gardens and fruit trees, which are then delivered to local food banks, non-profits or low-income communities in the area. Reducing food waste while providing healthy food for those in need? We can’t think of a better combination.
Check out these organizations in Northern Colorado accepting excess produce and the incredible ways they are helping our communities.
In partnership with the Gardens on Spring Creek, the Food Bank for Larimer County launched the Plant It Forward program in 2011 as an effort to increase local produce donations from both backyard gardeners and local farms. Community members are invited to plant an extra row in their garden to be harvested and dropped off at either the food bank or the gardens. In 2018, local gardeners donated more than 45,000 pounds of fresh produce, which went to feed those in need! If you are interested in participating, check out the Plant It Forward Guide and email Thadd Hollis at email@example.com or call 970-493-4477 with any questions.
Photo Courtesy of The Growing Project
Powered by The Growing Project, Food Finders is a group of passionate volunteers dedicated to eliminating food waste while addressing the issue of food insecurity in Fort Collins. The team has developed a network of farms, gardens, orchards and grocery stores that donate their unwanted, excess produce to be delivered to local nonprofits. In 2015, they delivered 12,000 pounds of fresh produce to those in need!
If you have fruit trees in your yard producing more fruit than you can eat, contact Food Finders to schedule a time for fruit from your fruit trees to be harvested and delivered to local nonprofits. Contact The Growing Project at foodfinders@thegrowingproject.
Community Food Share operates a Garden Share program, in which home gardeners share their bounties of freshly picked fruits, vegetables and herbs to be shared with the community. Through their longtime collaboration with Earth’s Table, volunteers also grow and harvest produce for Community Food Share at community gardens in the area, if they don’t have space to plant a garden.
COVID NOTE: As of June 2020, Community Food Share is collecting produce donations at their new outdoor farmstand. You can drop off donations at any time, but it’s best to do so during business hours (Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.).
FoCo Cafe does so much for the community, all centered around providing nutritious and delicious meals to Fort Collins residents regardless of their ability to pay while using mostly local, organic and sustainably grown ingredients. They’ve taken their philanthropic model a step further by reducing food waste with the FoCo Freedge. This energy-efficient fridge is available for donated produce, which is free for those in need. At this time, FoCo Cafe is accepting fresh produce from citizens and restaurants, but hopes to accept prepared foods in the future.
UpRoot Colorado’s mission is to “measurably reduce surplus agriculture in Colorado, support the economic stability of farmers and increase the nutritional security of our state’s residents.” Through their gleaning program, they harvest surplus fruits and vegetables from local farms — and fruit from the trees of backyard and urban gardens — to be distributed to food pantries and meal sites on the Northern Front Range and along the Western Slope. To donate excess fruit from your fruit trees and be a part of UpRoot Colorado’s efforts, register your fruit trees here!
The Growing Gardens Food Project does things a little differently. While they’re not taking the excess produce from your garden, they are accepting your volunteer efforts to further their mission of promoting health and self-sufficiency throughout Boulder County. The project increases access to fresh food and provides gardening education and resources for low-income community members. Get involved by working at the Food Project Farm in Longmont! The farm is unique in that 100% of the produce grown there is donated to low-income individuals and families.
Lettuce know what organizations we’re missing and other ways to get involved with the fight against food waste and food insecurity in Northern Colorado.