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Feeding the poor

 
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Hey everyone I have decided to use the land my father has given me to help feed the poor in my area,  my wife and I are both blessed with good paying jobs, and my job affords me alot of free time.  Two things that really bring me joy in life are gardening and helping others.   So my wife and I have decided we would like to start almost like a csa but instead of charging for product we will be giving out weekly baskets to those families with children who are finding it difficult to put good quality affordable food on their table.   we will probably start with about an acre garden this year and hopefully maybe double it the year after.   I am just looking for advice in general that anyone may have.   insurance etc.  how to incorporate permaculture etc.  getting volunteers to help at harvest etc.    

my wife is involved with a local church that is regularly contacted from members in the community for financial support food etc, so we will probably ask them who would need the baskets the most etc.  

Anyways if you can think of anything that may help me for the upcoming growing season it is well appreciated.  growing area is 5a.  Canada
I am a fairly experienced traditional gardener usually with about a 1/3 acre garden.  I never use pesticide fungicide etc
Thanks for your time
Rick
 
pollinator
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If you can grow potatoes where you are, that is a really good place to start. I know there is a church down in North Carolina that does what you suggest, doing a big potato patch for the area's poor. They work well because they are easy to keep, grow in abundance, and potatoes are a staple of most peoples pantry. People know how to cook potatoes as well, so it is an around good food to produce and give away. Here is the link, but keep watching past the first part as it talks about the church and their potatoes efforts about 40 seconds into the video...

Our church tried buying laying hens for the poor, but they found out quickly that it was cheaper to buy the eggs from the store then raise them...a sad reality. I prefer my own fresh eggs, but that is another topic.



 
pollinator
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Travis Johnson wrote:
Our church tried buying laying hens for the poor, but they found out quickly that it was cheaper to buy the eggs from the store then raise them...a sad reality. I prefer my own fresh eggs, but that is another topic.



You could feed the poor quite well on what supermarkets throw out.  There are many foods that are good long past the date on their package:  eggs are good for a couple weeks past the date stamp; chips, cookies, and crackers are good for months past; yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, and other fermented milk products were invented to last a few weeks without refrigeration; a little more aging doesn't hurt cheese either (what's blue cheese going to do, get moldy?); ice cream and other frozen food -- the decay has been frozen.  

If you ate what supermarkets are discarding because of a date on the package, you would gain weight quickly.  
 
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Two good points......grow potatoes and salvage store waste.

I have a little local store that throws out their damaged and out of date goods. They get credit for most of it from their vendors, then trash it. I manage to snag much of it for feeding to my chickens. What of it is still clean and safe to eat, I give to people-in-need in my community. Our two local supermarkets have contracts with a local pig grower, so all that stuff goes to him....none available for anyone else. But thankfully it isn't going into the dump.

I also deal with local hunters who often have more meat than they can use or share with family, especially the less desirable parts. Some of the people hunt for the enjoyment, more so than to just eat, and thus are quite happy to give or trade their excess. I happy take anything they offer me.

Potatoes and green beans are by far my easiest and most abundant crops. And they are veggies that just about everyone will eat.  
 
master steward
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Potatoes and green beans seem like really great ideas. Do green beans do well up in zone 5? Are there enough growing days? If not, snap peas are very similar and most people know how to eat them, as they can be eaten fresh and store relatively well. Perhaps you could also grow berries and fruit? Berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants, and almost everyone loves to eat them!

I love that you are thinking about doing this!
 
rick wilson
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Thanks everyone supermarket waste is not really an option pretty strict rules about discarding it.   And pretty much anything besides tropicals can be grown here lots of daylight hours in our rather short season.  
 
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Location: Just outside of Asheville, NC
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This is such a wonderful Idea. One thought to consider is things that keep a bit longer, as that will help people use it up rather than having it go to waste, and will also give a little more leeway in timing for distribution after harvest. For example whole lettuces or kale  rather than baby greens, carrots, winter squash, perhaps talking to someone local with apple trees rather than planting lots of berries, sweet peppers are great and are something my little girl (almost 3) can't get enough of.

You could also consider including a few recipes, especially if you're providing something a but unusual, and instructions of how to preserve things (for example when tomatoes are in season how to prepare them to freeze or can to eat later). You might also have a local food bank you could liaise with if you have a sudden surplus of just one thing . I also wonder if having open gardening days is something people (and especially their kids!) might enjoy if you live in an urban area where people don't usually get a chance to connect with where their food comes from.
 
pollinator
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I think this is a beautiful idea.
A lot of "familiar" foods that are easy to grow.  zucchini and summer squash, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, beets, green beans, sweet corn...

I also love the idea of including simple recipes.  Since fresh produce is a luxury for many, they may not be familiar with how to prepare them.
 
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Location: Kamloops, BC - Zone 6
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Have you considered listing an acre or two with youngagrarians.org?  
Giving away food is kind, but enabling the "poor" to access land and create a livelihood is on a whole other level.

Have you had a chance to watch poverty Inc.? It is on Netflix... Deals with challenging the notion of giving the poor a handout.  

Good luck
 
rick wilson
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Thanks for all the replies and great ideas guys...    Still almost a foot of snow on the ground here right now so just starting a bunch of seeds indoors.   Also just took about 100 cuttings off my grapes, currants and goosberries so had to pot them all.    I have asked a few friends so far if they would like to use some of my garden space, a few have said yes.  I dont live at this property about 5 miles away so for now only want friends or family there while im not.
 
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Location: Ellisforde, WA
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When I was a single parent I didn't have TIME to prepare vegetables from scratch. See if someone is willing to help prep the crop. I would've helped on my day off. I think this is why processed foods are so popular.
 
Posts: 270
Location: On the plateau in TN
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Here in mid TN we give food out twice a week.  Never know what will be in bag.  cans, bread, pasta, meat, cakes, bible, gloves, towels, etc.  I help out Wed but on Sat now running to a 7th day church.  I learned most the stuff comes from 2nd harvest. a national helper.
 
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Maybe hook up with a nutritionist. Finding people who need nutritious food, but can’t afford could be killing two birds with one stone. Healthy greens are the first and the last to be harvested, greatly extending the season.
 
pollinator
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Location: East tn
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Great idea. If you have the interest in doing so, including community building with the growing and giving could be synergistic.

Invluding the poor in planting, mulching, harvesting, preparing, canning, cooking could give them skills for life, instead of just a meal.

Building knowledge on natural methods, healthy eating, and even just giving them a chance to develop a taste for healthy food will all take time. Doing those things at a communal table with discussion will allow them to acknowledge their fears, concerns, questions and can create a Socratic hands on atmosphere for learning.

One last thought is to mybe structure it as a community garden so that people are picking their food. This may help avoid regulatory difficulties like you mentioned with stores unable to give food away.

Enjoy!
 
pollinator
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Location: Saskatchewan
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In 2017 I experimented and raised a bunch of broiler chickens. I sold most, but I didn't manage to sell them all. Luckily I had lots of storage room in multiple chest style freezers.

Over the winter one freezer quit working. I ended up contacting the local friendship center and donating 12 chickens. A woman there was able to find 12 families that could cook and use whole roasting chickens that day. I got a donation receipt for them.

If you don't know where to find people who need the help I highly recommend contacting your nearest friendship center. The people running the place will know who needs and can make use of whatever you have to offer.

Another thought, many people don't know how to cook. And many poor people do not have the equipment to cook. If you are working with a church they will likely have a kitchen. If someone is able to do a parents and kids cooking class where they cook and then take the food home this would be extemely valuable to those in need.
 
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