Springtime in Central Oregon brings with it frosted mornings, with the suggestion of warmer days ahead. Farmers are bringing starts out of the greenhouse and cold-hardy snap peas, kale, and head lettuce have pushed up through garden beds. As spring quickens its pace, we can soon get into the habits of early summer. Once again we can garden, attend markets, and cook a meal with fresh local produce to share with family or friends. The beginning of markets reconnects us with the friendly smiles of the farmers and ranchers that sell us delicious local fruits and vegetables. With the growing season underway, HDFFA has also begun to dust off our harvest tools and begin to plan for our first days out in the field and at the farmers market with our Grow & Give program.
Everyone Deserves Good Food
HDFFA is invested in a just and equitable food system where people have access to quality fresh food regardless of their income level. In Central Oregon, approximately 11-15% of residents experience food insecurity, or a lack of enough affordable and nutritious food to live a healthy life. HDFFA strengthens the ties between traditional food security efforts like food banks and building healthy food systems by collecting donations or purchasing food directly from local farmer Partners for our Food Access programs such as Grow & Give and Fresh Harvest Kits.
A fresh food drive, Grow & Give (www.hdffa.org/growandgive), partners with Central Oregon farmers, gardeners, and community members to collect nutritious, locally grown food that is in high demand, but often hard to find, at local food pantries. We can harvest locally grown food at its perfect ripeness and get it to someone in need within 1–2 days of harvesting—while it still tastes great and is packed with nutrients. Whether it is homegrown zucchini donated at the farmers market or carrots harvested from a farm by volunteers, fresh food from Grow & Give connects those in our community experiencing food insecurity with the highest quality produce. With the help of our volunteers, HDFFA has collected 130,000 pounds of produce from Central Oregon farmers since 2016, which is enough food for 108,000 meals for our neighbors experiencing food insecurity i our community.
How it Works
Whether you are a community member with a large garden and want to donate for the first time, or are an HDFFA farm Partner who has grown an extra row of carrots for Grow & Give, every pound of produce donated counts! The program is set up to encourage donations from all levels of the food system. This ensures that excess food, or food that did not sell at the market, won’t be wasted. Instead, it will find its way to a community member in Central Oregon who is experiencing food insecurity.
As a farmer, here is how you donate produce to the program:
- If you attend the Downtown Bend, Northwest Crossing, or Redmond farmers markets, HDFFA market staff will collect donations from your booth at the end of the market.
- Do you have over 200 lbs of produce for donation? Contact Abigail our Food Access Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org for a direct, on-farm pick-up.
Need volunteers to harvest donations? Schedule an on-farm glean with HDFFA’s Harvest Team by contacting Abigail at email@example.com.
As a gardener, here is how you donate produce to the program:
- Find our Grow & Give booths at the Downtown Bend, Northwest Crossing, and Redmond farmers markets.
- Donate excess produce directly to our Market Staff. Produce must be washed and free of excessive damage, bugs, dirt, etc.
- If you have not grown any excess produce and would still like to donate to Grow & Give, purchase fresh produce from your favorite local farmer and donate it at our market booth.
HDFFA transports the donated produce to NeighborImpact. Any of their 55+ food pantry partners from the food bank can receive the produce and distribute it to their clients. Additionally, you can sometimes find Grow & Give produce on the NeighborImpact Fresh To You Mobile Pantry. To learn more about this market of fresh produce and pantry staples on wheels, and when it will be in your community, visit NeighborImpact’s Mobile Pantry webpage.
To see the entire process of how food makes it from farm/garden to plate, check out our video “Follow That Food”!
Volunteer on the Farm
Our commitment to fighting hunger in Central Oregon requires the engagement of community members, volunteers, and outreach services. Grow & Give hosts a variety of volunteer opportunities, from harvesting vegetables for donation on local farms to assisting our market staff to collect market donations at the end of each farmer’s market. When you volunteer on the farm, you gainthe opportunity to connect with local agriculturalists and experience the inner workings of the local food system firsthand. If digging in the dirt is not your forte, you can still support Grow & Give! Haul vegetables to the food bank as a Veggie Hauler, or assist the NeighborImpact team with bagging produce after harvest. In 2022, thanks to our amazing farm Partners, market staff, and our volunteer Harvest Team, HDFFA harvested 26,397 pounds of farm fresh produce that went directly to those in our community experiencing food insecurity. This year we are hoping to be back in the field in late May as the days grow longer and the season fully begins!
If you are interested in supporting our program with your time, you can find more information about our current volunteer opportunities here. All volunteer opportunities are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and are sent out 2-3 days ahead of time via email. First, please fill out our 2023 volunteer form so we may contact you with opportunities specific to your interest. Our program depends on the generosity of people like you. If you would like to donate to help alleviate hunger in Central Oregon, you can find more information here.