Monthly Archives: June 2009

Help the Hungry with the Giving Gardens Network

If you’re a gardener, chances are you will have some extra produce this summer—or might even be willing to plant a little extra. Those efforts could go a long way to helping feed folks for whom food is scarce—and this year, there is even more need than usual. The recession means that more families are experiencing food shortages, and food banks and assistance agencies are finding their resources are also required to stretch further and further.

Though lots of people know how to grow fresh food and are willing to share, in the past, it’s been hard to figure out how to get that food to people who need it. Most of us thought that food pantries could not accept fresh food. As it turns out, that isn’t always true! Many pantries  do take fresh veggies and other perishable items. And thanks to a new initiative called the Giving Gardens Network, it’s easier than ever to find them.

A volunteer-driven cooperative campaign set up with the help of several partner organizations,  the Giving Gardens Network is described as “a network of home gardeners, farmers and organizations that are working to encourage and support the donation of fresh food, grown locally in New Hampshire, to food pantries and shelters. By planning to raise a little extra … by growing the foods that are most needed … and by donating to locations that can accept fresh foods…we can help reduce hunger in New Hampshire.”

Using the Giving Gardens Network website, you can plan, grow, and donate your food to any one of the Seacoast food pantries that accept fresh food. And you can also keep track of statewide efforts to help feed the hungry using food grown right here at home.

Now that’s helping your neighbor.

Lisa M. Hamilton at RiverRun Bookstore June 27th

Seacoast Local and RiverRun Bookstore present the next author in their “Making the Connection” speaker series, a series that serves as a catalyst for continuing education, community connections, and sustainable change. Lisa M. Hamilton, author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness, will be at RiverRun Bookstore on Saturday, June 27 . Hamilton will take us beyond local food and into the lives of western farmers who are David to the Goliath of corporate agriculture.

The event is co-sponsored by Slow Food Seacoast, and it starts at 6 pm with the debut of their new game “Who Wants to Be a Locavore?” Local food writer Rachel Forrest will host this trivia challenge, there will be prizes galore and as always, refreshments of the local variety will be served.

Lisa M. Hamilton will present her talk at 7 pm. The journalist and photographer spent two years profiling three families in rural America who represent a change in the way we should think about food and agriculture.

As with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Deeply Rooted suggests one of the best ways to address the problems with our nation’s food system is to go straight to the source—the farmers themselves.

Over the past forty years, many American farmers and ranchers have been told to “get big or get out.”  Countless people within agriculture have been replaced with machines, and their farms with corporate agribusinesses. The large-scale industrialization that followed has altered the face of American agriculture with dire environmental and economic consequences, and endangered the health and wellbeing of consumers.

Now, across the country, a courageous group of farmers and ranchers have issued a call to arms to end these unhealthy and unsustainable practices. To them, agriculture is not an industry but a way of life, and humans should be at the heart of it all.  Among these farmers are

•    Harry Lewis: an African-American dairyman in Texas who dreams of addressing Congress one day

•    Virgil Trujillo: a tenth-generation New Mexico rancher who believes agriculture could be the salvation of his impoverished hometown

•    David, Dan and Theresa Podoll: North Dakotan organic farmers whose vision for a more sustainable way of farming is derided by their neighbors

Scorned, ridiculed, and dismissed for their unconventional beliefs and faith in people, Harry Lewis, Virgil Trujillo, and the Podoll family prove to be the real mavericks of our time.  By telling their stories, Hamilton has given a human face to agriculture, and serves up an important lesson about bringing farmers back to the table at a time when we need them more than ever.

Lisa M. Hamilton’s work has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, Orion, and Gastronomica. She lives in northern California.

RiverRun Bookstore is located at 20 Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth. The event is free and open to the public.

For more details on the event, call 603-431-2100 or visit www.riverrunbookstore.com. For more information on Seacoast Local, including its “Buy Local” program, call 603-766-1775 or visit www.seacoastlocal.org. The Slow Food Seacoast website is at www.slowfoodseacoast.org.