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Plant.Grow.Share. Needs You! Bring Your Fresh Produce to Your Local Food Pantry

August 15, 2017

Plant.Grow.Share. is an initiative to provide fresh and healthy food to our local food pantries and to encourage local gardeners to help feed the hungry in our community. It is a collaboration between Keohane Funeral Homes, the Weymouth Food Pantry and Interfaith Social Services.

We depend on the generosity of the community and our local gardeners to bring fresh produce to our food pantries to make the program successful. There’s still time to make donations to the Weymouth Food Pantry and the Pantry Shelf at Interfaith Social Services with produce from your own garden or even store-bought vegetables.

“We’re proud to be a partner of the Plant.Grow.Share. program,” said John Keohane, Co-president for Keohane Funeral Homes. “Just planting an extra row of vegetables in your garden to share with our local food pantries can make a huge difference for our community.”

Don’t Let Your Garden Produce Go to Waste

Don’t let those veggies rot on the vine. Sometimes there’s a tendency for people to think, “My fridge is full, I’m not going to bother to pick those last few tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.”

“You might not need those veggies but our hungry clients do,” said Rick Doane, Executive Director of Interfaith Social Services. “Those small donations make a difference. Our programs are sustained because of them – and our food pantry clients get to enjoy healthy food.”

Interfaith Social Services is celebrating their 70th anniversary this year. They have been helping South Shore residents in need for the past seven decades with the support of the community.

“Plant.Grow.Share. isn’t just about raising fresh produce in your backyard. It is about the need for fresh fruits and vegetables in our food pantries. Even after the growing season ends we hope that people will think of purchasing and donating fresh foods, and not just canned goods, to food pantries,” said Doane.

“The Plant.Grow.Share. program is really beginning to catch on and changing people’s ideas about what they can donate to food pantries. It’s wonderful!” said Cas Casados, Director of the Weymouth Food Pantry.

How Does the Garden Grow?

As in past seasons, Keohane Funeral Home and Interfaith Social Services have planted vegetable gardens this year dedicated to the Plant.Grow.Share. program. Kale, peppers, and assorted vegetables are growing quickly.

The tomatoes are starting to ripen in the gardens at our Quincy and South Weymouth locations. We expect to harvest bushels of various vegetables as the growing season progresses which will be donated to the clients at our local food pantries.

“Plant.Grow.Share. is a one way we can give back to the community in a meaningful and sustainable way. We can see how much the program makes a difference to our neighbors in need when we drop off our donations at the food pantries,” said Joseph Reardon, Vice President for Community Development and Advance Planning at Keohane.

The gardens at Interfaith Social Services are coming in nicely, too. “We planted a garden in the ally next to our building. This is our seventh year planting in that spot,” said Doane. “We have had a bumper crop of kale. It has been wonderful to harvest it, rinse it off and give it directly to our food pantry clients. They love it. The beauty of kale is that it just keeps growing; so, we have been harvesting for weeks, and will continue to do so into the cooler months. We also had a small roof top tomato garden at our building. We have been perfecting this over the past few years. While the harvest from those two dozen tomato plants wasn’t huge it was important to our clients.”

“We don’t currently have a gardening space for the Weymouth Food Pantry, though we’re working on this and hope to have one next year,” said Casados. “So far, we’ve received tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash, various types of cucumbers (mostly pickling and lemon), and we’re beginning to get green beans now. We work with Holly Hill farm and we’ve received lettuce, bok choi, rhubarb, pea shoots, onions, and more. From local farmers at our farmers’ market, we’ve received much of the above plus peaches, concord grapes, kale, and beets from local farmers.”

Free Tomato Container Workshops

At the beginning of the growing season the Plant.Grow.Share. program offered free Tomato Container Gardening workshops along with free seedlings to local gardeners to plant in their own gardens.  Tomato Container Gardening Workshops were held free-of-charge for anyone interested in learning about container gardening. The hour-long workshop was led by local organic farmer Jon Belber of Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset at the Tufts Library; Hingham Public Library; and other locations in Quincy and Weymouth. Attendees were supplied with all the knowledge and supplies needed to create and grow their own free-standing tomato container gardens.

“For the past few years, we have been encouraging local residents to donate fresh produce to area food pantries,” said Doane. “Even if you don’t have the land or gardening experience, a container garden is a great way to grow fresh produce.”

The goal of the program is to have a ton of tomatoes donated to the food pantries by the end of the growing season – so bring in those tomatoes! #tonoftomatoes

How You Can Help

For those who would like to help, the food pantries are happy to receive donations of both home-grown produce and fresh store-bought produce.

Small donations of 20 bags or fewer can be dropped off at any of the Weymouth Food Pantry pop-up sites during distribution hours. Check out the Contact page for a complete list. Donations of all sizes are welcome between 10am and 1pm at their food warehouse at 40 Reservoir Park Drive, Unit B, in Rockland, Tuesday through Friday.

Donations from your garden or supermarket for Interfaith Social Services can be dropped off at 105 Adams Street in Quincy from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, and until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Monetary donations are also always welcomed. Donations to the Plant.Grow.Share. program can be made online at interfaithsocialservices.org/donate.

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