Our gardens are thriving this year. Are you tired of green beans and squash yet? Well, I have a suggestion for that extra produce.
The Colorado State University Extension Office, Cooking Matters and Growing Partners will be accepting any and all extra produce for participants in the Commodity Foods distribution program.
This is the fourth year of the Produce Bounty, which collects fresh vegetables for those in need. The produce goes to the Commodity Foods distribution program, which provides food essentials to our fellow residents who are financially stressed. For various reasons, fruits and vegetables are a food group often ignored by lower income populations. The program gives participants a variety of fresh produce, prepares some items for tasting and provides recipes to encourage increased consumption of vegetables throughout the year.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can bring produce to the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave. Volunteers will package it for families of four. Then on Monday, those packages will be included with food distributed to participants in the Commodity Foods program.
The typical distribution usually involves basics such as meat, cheese, rice, cereal, ultra-pasteurized milk and canned goods. Over the previous three years, our community gardens have provided two to four tons of produce for this event. The produce also has come from commercial producers, private gardens and people without gardens who purchase produce to contribute. Whether it is a pound, a bushel or a truck load, it is all appreciated. The community’s generosity is truly lovely.
When family members are tight on money, they are less likely to purchase unfamiliar produce. As part of the program, local chefs donate time to prepare simple recipes so participants can sample ideas. Recipes are then shared with them as well.
During the year when I see various participants, I often hear about how they’re eating more produce and using recipes they picked up through the program.
Numerous volunteers receive, clean and package the donated produce, but we can always use more. Fort Lewis College students, 4-H youth and parents and master gardeners make up the bulk of volunteers for this four-day gathering.
In addition to tomatoes, fresh carrots, onions, herbs, beets, lettuces and fingerling potatoes, when was the last time you had purple string beans? What about kale and pattypan or delicata squash? These are some of the local delicacies we are putting out there. The array is amazing, and the excitement is invigorating.
If you need more information about the annual Produce Bounty, call me, Wendy Rice, at 759-9352 or email Celeste@growingpartners.org.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.