Information provided by CSU Extension
After a colder and wetter spring than normal, backyard gardeners across Colorado are planting, tending, and preparing to harvest for the second season of Grow & Give, a program whose volunteers raise and donate fresh fruits and vegetables for statewide distribution to people in need.
Grow & Give is a project of the Colorado Master Gardener Program, a well-known part of CSU Extension. Volunteer participation is open to any Colorado gardener.
The project sprouted in Spring 2020 in response to skyrocketing food needs among people coping with unemployment and other hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is modeled on backyard victory gardens that boosted food supplies and morale during the bleak years of World War I and World War II. It was so successful in its first season that Grow & Give is back, with a broader goal of boosting food security in Colorado communities over the long term.
Last year, nearly 600 volunteer gardeners signed up, 32 from Douglas County. In Douglas County alone, gardeners grew and donated more than 3,700 pounds of produce while across the state gardeners in 25 counties contributed more than 47,000 pounds. The fresh fruits and vegetables went to food banks, pantries, homeless shelters, and other nonprofits for distribution to individuals and families facing hunger and food shortages.
The number of participants and food donations is expected to expand in the second year of Grow & Give. Already in 2021, 62 gardeners in Douglas County have signed up and have begun to donate early-season produce like leafy greens and radishes.
To support backyard gardeners, the Colorado Master Gardener Program has a few new offerings, including:
- A free, 85-page Colorado Vegetable Guide available for download in English and Spanish. The guide offers crop-by-crop guidance for gardeners; learn to grow everything from asparagus to zucchini.
- A new mobile app that connects gardeners to hunger-relief organizations. It’s offered in partnership with the Colorado nonprofit Fresh Food Connect and demonstrates how Grow & Give is using technology to expand its reach.
- An online vegetable course available for free from June 1-14. The asynchronous course is designed for novice and experienced gardeners alike.
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