As I dropped by my friend Julie’s house in McLean this afternoon, she was coming back from a farm market in Great Falls with baked goods donated to Share of McLean by the Baguette Republic. They were in big, flat boxes and Julie was going to put the pastries and bread into separate bags for delivery to her local food pantry. We had been trying to get together for a tour of the community gardens in Lewinsville Park where Julie has a plot and where The Gardener’s Share saw its inception.
Share of McLean provides food, clothing, furniture, transportation and other help to people in need in McLean. The Gardener’s Share was Julie’s brainchild a couple years ago when she noticed that people often got too busy to harvest their vegetables in the community garden once school started. She reached out to her fellow gardeners, collecting produce on Wednesday evenings for delivery to the food pantry.
In the short time Gardener’s Share has been up and running, it has acquired support from five faith communities and three girl and boy scout troops. It also has three working plots donated by the community garden and individuals. These are planted and worked by volunteers, with produce sent to the food pantry. This year has seen growth in the volunteer base, a relief to Julie, who was a one-woman show the first year.
Like AFAC, Share sees a variety of people in need—some of whom were donors before the recent recession. Julie knows most of the gardeners in Lewinsville Park and has learned from many of them. She showed me her and her husband’s garden, where they have everything from lettuce to cabbage to radishes, turnips and potatoes—not to mention tomatoes and peppers.
The main plot for Gardener’s Share is divided into raised beds built buy a boy scout and differentiated by color. Different volunteer groups manage different beds and there is a rota for watering, weeding and other chores. For more on Julie’s efforts, see an article she wrote for Atlantic Cities. If you live in Mclean, think about donating or volunteering. If you live elsewhere, does your community have gardeners and would they have extra produce for a local food bank?