Never in recent memory has it been so important to help one another. The pandemic has changed lives, and many are struggling. Food pantries are overwhelmed in many communities, and gardeners can help.

My parents were teenagers during the Great Depression, and I remember them describing how nearly everyone in the community was in the same boat; most had little or no money, but they pulled together, often sharing among neighbors, or trading extra resources as best they could.

The Victory Gardens of World Wars I and II had a similar camaraderie. People pulled together to grow vegetables in backyard gardens that fed the nation, which freed commercially produced vegetables for feeding troops overseas.

A Victory Garden initiative is alive and well in our current pandemic. Did you notice the garden seed racks after the spring planting season? Never have I seen them so bare.

Temporary shortages of food and other supplies reminded us that having vegetables at ready access in our own garden is reassuring.

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This spring, we were encouraged nationally and locally to plant not only for ourselves, but an extra row or two to share with those without gardens, and to help stock food pantries with fresh, nutritious vegetables. According to nearly all national and local reports, food pantries have been overwhelmed with need.

How do we get our extra garden vegetables to a local food pantry to help others? In Cass County, the North Dakota State University Extension Master Gardeners have a well-organized method with a proven track record.

Last year, they collected and donated over 7,000 pounds of vegetables. The initiative, “Veggies for the Pantry,” is especially timely this year.

NDSU Extension Master Gardener / Special to The Forum
NDSU Extension Master Gardener / Special to The Forum

How it works

Master Gardener volunteers set up collection points across the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo-Harwood metro on Monday evenings, making it convenient for gardeners to donate their surplus vegetables and fruits.

You simply drop off your produce at one of seven collection sites on Monday evenings from 6:30-7:30 p.m., and they transport the food to Fargo’s Emergency Food Pantry and Moorhead’s Dorothy Day House.

Collection will start Monday, July 27, and continue until the first frost of fall. The Master Gardeners are also collecting unsold vegetables from three area farmers markets and delivering to the YMCA Women’s Shelter.

The Master Gardeners donating their time to this worthwhile effort are Deb Miller, Barb Keyes, Julie Vetter, Vickie Hardy, Joyce Larson, Candance Allen, Alice Fujita-Schwan, Lydia Jean Hillerson, Joan Faust and Carol Burley.

Where to donate

When: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday evenings from July 27 until fall frost

Fargo locations: The Bowler, 2630 S. University Drive; Longfellow Recycle Parking Lot, 2939 Elm St. N.

West Fargo locations: Maplewood Park Parking Area, 1504 17th Ave. S.; Community Presbyterian Church, 702 Sheyenne St.; Journey in Faith Church, 650 40th Ave E.

Moorhead location: Trinity Lutheran Church, 210 Seventh St. S.

Harwood, N.D., location: Sheyenne Gardens, 17010 29th St. SE

There's an easy way for Fargo-area gardeners to donate extra fruit and vegetables this summer. Special to The Forum
There's an easy way for Fargo-area gardeners to donate extra fruit and vegetables this summer. Special to The Forum

ARCHIVE: Read more of Don Kinzler's Growing Together columns

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at kinzlerd@casscountynd.gov or call 701-241-5707.