It’s that glorious time of summer when hours of sunshine during the day and a good soaking from evening thunderstorms make for happy plants, as evidenced by the backyard and community gardens positively exploding with fresh fruits and veggies. You can see the tomato and squash plants growing in leaps and bound before your very eyes!
Some gardens even become so prolific that the gardener has an overwhelming surplus of product to deal with. Sometimes a bounty can feel like a burden; after months spent tending to plants, the last thing a gardener wants is to watch perfectly good plants rot or be eaten away by pests.
If your garden is growing zucchini faster than you can eat it, by all means, surreptitiously drop off some to your neighbors. Then, consider donating some to the food cupboard closest to you.
Here at the Chester County Food Bank, we receive a lot of questions this time of year about donating fresh food from gardens. Every food cupboard is going to have its own guidelines particularly this year with COVID-19 safety protocols so don’t be shy about reaching out to ask specific questions before dropping off produce. Our Raised Bed Garden manager Raina Ainslie says, “There are more than 30 crops people could be growing right now, all with different harvest directions. Please review our best practices for harvesting and donating produce. Please only donate quality produce you would eating yourself. Avoid donating bruised. or overly mature veggies.
One thing we can recommend for sure is not allowing your zucchini to grow to the size of baseball bats! When squash get too big, the flavor and texture suffer, and the seeds can become tough and inedible. Sure, people can potentially shred one up for zucchini bread or muffins, but this wonderful produce won’t go as far to provide nutrition to families in need as when it can be sautéed, grilled or otherwise cooked into a healthful meal.
Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate food, funds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or request a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.
The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthful food.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.