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Plantidote of the Day 2011-02-24

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orange tree


Orange tree

Yes, it's an ordinary, backyard orange tree. But keep reading. Because it turns out that a Southern California woman named Helena Davis came up with an ingenious way to use trees just like this one to help fight hunger . Plus, it's one of those ideas that could work in other areas with different fruit trees or vegetable gardens.

For anyone who's not familiar with Southern California, I should explain that there are thousands of trees like the one above in backyards. Most of the fruit -- usually oranges, tangerines and lemons -- ripens about the same time. The majority of these trees are very productive. Unfortunately, most of the fruit is not harvested and it's impossible for the average person to eat more than a fraction of it. The bulk of it falls off the trees and either rots or gets scooped into the trash. That's why Davis's idea is so inspired -- it costs almost nothing to provide people who need food with fresh, locally grown produce!

In a few months, a similar scenario is going to be taking place all over the country. When summer gardens are in full swing and you start wondering what to do with all those tomatoes, squash and cucumbers, please don't forget about food banks. If you are able to donate produce (or any type of food), you can find a food bank near you at either FeedingAmerica or Share Our Strength.

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Readers, please send twig ( images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chanterelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

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Submitted by lambert on

This is great. Normally, we think of food preservation as storing food in jars, or as pickling. We don't think of food preservation as storing food in the bellies of the hungry, but it is!

I should have done this last year, and I'll try to do that this year...

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Submitted by twig on

It's great to see what all these local groups are doing, especially in preventing perishables from going to waste. And now working with growers -- awesome!!

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Submitted by caseyOR on

started in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association. It helps people set up programs in their communities to share their garden bounty with the hungry,and hooks gardeners up with food banks/pantries and soup kitchens in their area who take donations of fresh produce. It's a great program.

What I do now is set aside a small part of my modest urban garden specifically for food to donate. The Oregon Food Bank works with Plant A Row in helping local gardeners find pantries that take fresh produce. It also lists the vegies and fruits that are most frequently asked for by food box recipients in my area. So, I know that lots of people who are getting food assistance here really like getting fresh green beans, peppers, tomatoes, cukes, and collards. So, I grow extra green beans and cukes specifically to donate. I also take them my overflow of other vegies.

Plant A Row for the Hungry