When the Olympia City Council updated an ordinance allowing residents to engage in more backyard farming, the capital city joined other Thurston County jurisdictions in a growing trend. More people — urban and rural — are growing or raising some of their own food.
But here’s a sobering fact: While millions of backyard gardeners grow more produce than they can possibly use, 1 in 6 Americans doesn’t have enough food.
The Thurston County Food Bank is one of several South Sound charitable organizations that have recognized that disparity. It has signed on to a nationwide campaign called AmpleHarvest.org, which connects home gardeners with local food banks and pantries. The Rainier Food Bank, ROOF Community Services in Rochester, Lewis County Food Banks, and Destiny Clothes & Loaves in Centralia also have joined the network.
Ample Harvest’s goal is to address hunger issues by educating, encouraging and enabling more than 41 million American backyard gardeners to donate their excess produce to a local food bank. They have signed up 6,000 food banks across all 50 states, and receive support from a wide variety of national organizations, including the USDA, the White House, the National Gardening Association and the National Council of Churches.
For families strapped by the Great Recession who nonetheless want to help those less fortunate, growing and donating makes sense. When money is tight, it’s easier to reach into the backyard than the back pocket.