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Food Gardening and the Broader Community

Grow an Edible Garden with your Community

Being able to grow your own food instills a sense of pride and security, but expanding the effort to go beyond your yard can build and sustain your neighborhood and community. 

Share Resources:  When growing your food garden, also consider how you can grow as a neighborhood. Some ideas on how to grow with and for your neighbors:

  1. Swap seeds and seedlings: Saving and swapping seeds is how our ancestors passed heirloom species from one generation to the next. Here's more on saving and swapping seeds.
  2. Shop with and for one another:  Order bulk compost or mulch deliveries to keep delivery costs down and simplify delivery routes for your local landscape materials company.
  3. Share tools:  Declutter your garden shed by sharing tools instead of buying them. Examples of tools that only get seasonal use:  weed whacker, hedge trimmer, fruit picker, chain saw, rototiller.
  4. Plant Collaboratively:  Do you have a shade garden and your neighbor gets all sun? Collaborate on crop planning across fence lines. Plant the shade tolerant edibles (roots and leafy greens) and swap with your neighbor’s heat loving edibles (tomatoes, peppers and other fruit crops). Or plant different varieties of crops to get a more diverse harvest throughout the neighborhood.

Share your bumper crop with others in the community. Photo: Elaine Casap, Unsplash
Share your bumper crop with others in the community. Photo: Elaine Casap, Unsplash
Share your bounty: Now that you’ve started your food garden, you may soon find that you have more than enough to feed your family. Have you considered donating some of the extra produce beyond your friends and neighbors?  As impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt, many of the most vulnerable families in our community have lost employment and are struggling to buy healthy food. The good news is, lots of organizations are stepping up to help provide some of those missing meals!

If you can grow an extra row for those in need, please consider sharing your bounty with the following organizations. (Subject to change 6/26/20)

Use this list of local non-profits that accept produce donations. Be sure to call or email first to get confirmation before bringing any produce donations.

Whistlestop:
Location: 930 Tamalpais Ave, San Rafael
Phone: 415-456-9062
Time: Fridays, 9AM-10AM (side door) OR: M, T, W: 11:30AM-1PM (front door take-out window)

Community Action Marin (CAM)  
Location: CAM Central Kitchen, 4308 Redwood Highway, Suite 100, San Rafael
Phone: 415-491-4670
Email: lwalton@camarin.org
Time: Mon-Fri 7AM-12PM

Ceres Community Project
Location: Central Kitchen, 4308 Redwood Highway, Suite 100, San Rafael
Phone: 214-532-8650
Email: lkatz@ceresproject.org
Time: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 1:30-6:30PM

Sanzuma.org
Location: San Pedro Elementary School, 498 Point San Pedro Road, San Rafael
Phone: 510-599-9621
Email: lori@sanzuma.org

North Bay Children’s Center
Location: 932 C Street, Novato (Admin Office)
Phone: 415-883-6222
Time: Mon-Fri 7:30AM-3:30PM

Homeward Bound of Marin
Phone: 415-332-5521
Email: Arey@hbofm.org

FOR WHOLE FRUIT ONLY --
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Location: 820 B Street, San Rafael
Email: vmasseria@vinnies.org
Time: Drop-off daily, 7AM-1PM

FOR GLEANING: If you have extra fruit on your trees, email “Share The Bounty” at sharethebountymarin@gmail.com and they will pick up & take it to donor organizations (sharethebountymarin.org).

Use local social media outlets to offer free produce: Facebook, Nextdoor, etc.

Note: For now, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank cannot take small donations of garden-grown produce due to increased demands on their services. They hope to resume donations of garden produce in the future at their San Rafael warehouse. If you are a farmer with a larger donation, please contact them directly at their Food Sourcing Department at 415-282-1900 ext 239 or by emailing vpatterson@sfmfoodbank.org.

Read this if you are concerned regarding legal protection for food donors: https://extrafood.org/laws-protect-food-donors.

While there is currently no evidence that the coronavirus can be transferred through food, please follow safety precautions to keep our community healthy. Do not harvest produce if you feel unwell or have been exposed to COVID-19, wash your hands before harvesting produce, and maintain social distancing and wear a face covering when donating produce.

And as always, Marin Master Gardeners has a wealth of information on how to grow food!