I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – most gardenersare born to be givers and nurturers. And that’s why giving to garden nonprofitsand charities comes naturally. Donating to garden causes, be it on #givingtuesdayor any day of the year, is easy to do and the fulfillment you receive from thisact of kindness lasts a lifetime.
While there’s far too many to name individually, you cannormally visit your localextension office or nearest botanical garden to find information on local gardennonprofits. A quick Google search online will also provide numerous gardencharities and causes that are out there. But with so many to choose from, wheredo you start?
It’s overwhelming, I know. That said, many gardeningassociations and organizations are well known, and those can be great places tostart. Look for something that speaks to you personally, be it feeding thehungry, educating children, creating new gardens or working towards making ourworld a healthier, more sustainable place in which to live.
Community gardens, school gardens, and orchards can provide delicious, fresh produce to food banks and food pantries, but so can you. Even if you’re not already involved with a community or school garden, you can still donate your own homegrown fruits and veggies to your local food bank. And you don’t need to have a large garden either.
Did you know that around 80% of gardeners actually grow more produce than is really needed? I’ve been guilty of this myself with some years having so many tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash than I knew what to do with. Sound familiar?
Instead of all this healthy food going to waste, generous gardeners can simply donate it to families in need. Were you aware that people in your own neighborhood may, in fact, be considered food insecure? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), during 2018 alone, at least 37.2 million U.S. households, many with young children, were food insecure at some time during the year.
No one should ever have to worry about when or where their next meal will come from. But you can help. Got a bountiful harvest? If you’re not sure where to take your surplus harvest, you visit AmpleHarvest.org online to find your nearest food pantry to donate to.
You can also offer monetary support, as Our site does with its community or school sponsorship program, which helps provide these gardens with what they need to successfully grow and thrive. American Community Garden Association (AGCA) is another great place that helps support community gardens across the country.
Kids are our future and cultivating their minds in the garden is one of the most wonderful gifts you could ever give them. Many organizations, such as Kids Gardening, create educational opportunities for children to play, learn, and grow through gardening.
Your local 4-H program is another gardening cause you can donate to. My daughter loved participating in 4-H when she was young. This youth development program teaches valuable skills in citizenship, technology, and healthy living with numerous programs available to prepare kids for careers in agriculture.
When it’s close to your heart, donating to garden causes, orany cause for that matter, will bring a lifetime of happiness both to you andthe ones you’re helping.
But more than the numbers, we celebrate the stories of kids around the world—like Jorge, whose dreams of becoming a teacher are coming true.
These stories are all possible thanks to Feed the Children and our network of donors and partners. Our vision is to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. We distribute food and resources to those without life’s essentials, and work to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. We are active in communities throughout the U.S. and in ten countries around the world, specifically in Central America, Africa, and Asia.
Children are our most vital resource, both here in the U.S. and around the world. They have the potential to grow up and build communities, solve social problems, cure disease, and create beautiful art. But they need us now—to stand with them, to support their success, and to make sure their bellies are full so their minds can learn and their hearts can dream big dreams. Our work is urgent—a malnourished child cannot develop properly, and if a child’s growth is still stunted at age 5, the damage may be irreversible.
We believe collaboration is the only way to end childhood hunger. We work with nearly 1,100 partner agencies, especially local organizations, to ensure that food and necessities go to the places of most need. These agencies include soup kitchens, food pantries, rescue missions, homeless shelters, and food banks—organizations that provide relief and emergency aid to people who are poor in communities across the U.S. and around the world.
Our international work is focused on alleviating hunger and empowering communities to improve their circumstances. We organize our approach around four pillars: Food and Nutrition, Health and Water, Education, and Livelihoods. By addressing the root causes of poverty, we can help people around the world build a better tomorrow.
We employ a full-time staff to drive our work, but our donors and volunteers are the heart of what we do. Our child sponsors make a commitment to support a specific child living in another country through monthly giving and letters of love and support. Volunteers assemble food boxes and stuff backpacks with supplies so kids can go to school ready to learn. Volunteers in our artist program attend concerts and other events to share the good work Feed the Children is doing. Short-term trip volunteers travel to locations around the world to learn about our programs and establish friendships with the people there.
It takes the power of many to end childhood hunger: donors who believe in the cause, experts to diagnose the problem and create solutions, organizations to pool their resources and expertise, and communities to work together for change. We invite you to join us.
Join America's Charities, now through December, as we highlight different nonprofits and share how individuals and companies can Shape the Future of various causes through workplace giving programs.
Our thanks to Feed the Children for sharing their mission and impact with us. You can learn more about their work by visiting their website at www.feedthechildren.org. To support their efforts, please donate to Feed the Children through your company's workplace giving program (CFC# 10986 if you're a Federal employee participating in the Combined Federal Campaign).
If your company would like to start a workplace giving program to support nonprofits like Feed the Children, click here.
1 of 8 Garden volunteer and Christ the Good Shepherd Church member Brenda Fabian, a biology teacher at Klein Oak High School, transplants herbs to the herb garden during a work session at the Shepherd's Garden.
Jerry Baker/Freelance Show More Show Less
2 of 8 Garden volunteers Noah Nguyen, 7, left, a first-grader at Lakewood Elementary, and his mom Liz, right, team-up to clear mulch from a bed of Texas sweet onions to ready the beds for harvest during a work session at the Shepherd's Garden across the street from Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Klein. Jerry Baker/Freelance Show More Show Less
4 of 8 Garden manager Sheila Haskins, left, watches as church member and garden volunteer Melody Galland, right, of Spring, helps her daughter Angelina, 2, weigh red onions that they harvested during their work session at the Shepherd's Garden. Jerry Baker/Freelance Show More Show Less
5 of 8 Christ the Good Shepherd Church members and garden volunteers Bill Rump, from left, Maria Cargile, and Ken Bache, help volunteer Dale Hudson screen compost for the garden during their work session at the garden. Jerry Baker/Freelance Show More Show Less
7 of 8 Angelina Galland, 2, center, admires her handiwork as she joins her mom, church member and garden volunteer Melody Galland, brother Sebastian Quintana, 12, right, a sixth-grader at Cox Intermediate, dad Adam Galland, and brother Adrian Quintana, 10, a 4th grader at Snyder Elementary, in the harvesting of red onions during their work session at the Shepherd's Garden. Jerry Baker/Freelance Show More Show Less
It's spring and local gardeners are in full force, preparing beds and planting seeds.
Among them are a number of green thumbs who are getting their hands dirty for a cause - working in community donation gardens where the harvests are handed over to charitable organizations.
Annie's Garden, located at St. Anne's Catholic Church, 1111 S. Cherry St. in Tomball, provides produce for the food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul Society.
The Tomball Community Garden, located at Tomball United Methodist Church, 1603 Baker Drive, grows vegetables for Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries.
Bill and Muriel Williams NAM Community Garden, located at Plymouth United Church, 5927 Louetta Road, harvests with Northwest Assistance Ministries food pantry in mind, as does the Shepherd's Garden, at Christ the Good Shepherd, 18511 Klein Church Road, in addition to a number of other local charitable organizations.
All of these gardens are especially in need of volunteers from the community to keep their efforts going.
"I'm looking everywhere for volunteers - high schools, scout troops. Everybody is welcome to work," said Veronica Benitez, manager of Annie's Garden.
Most come out on the Saturday workdays, from 9 to 11 a.m., but Benitez said she can schedule volunteer hours at any time.
Annie's Garden: St. Anne's Catholic Church, 1111 S. Cherry St. in Tomball. www.stanne-tomball.org, email [email protected] to volunteer
Bill and Muriel Williams NAM Community Garden: Plymouth United Church, 5927 Louetta Road, 281-251-8147, www.plymouthunited.org/ministries/nam-garden/
Shepherd's Garden: Christ the Good Shepherd, 18511 Klein Church Road, http://cgsccdogh.org/shepherds-garden
Tomball Community Garden: Tomball United Methodist Church, 1603 Baker Drive, www.facebook.com/TomballCommunityGarden/timeline
"No experience is necessary," she said.
Baker, manager of the Tomball Community Garden, is in the same boat. The work days are from 9 to 10 a.m. every Thursday.
"It takes a lot of people to work on something this big," she said. "Most of our volunteers are not church members and it's certainly not a requirement."
Baker said that the garden produces about 1,000 pounds of food on its 20 beds. "We're providing a healthy source of produce," she said. "A lot of people put a lot of love into it."
Baker added that volunteering is an ideal way to learn about gardening.
Shepherd's Garden, a mission of Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Community, is managed by Sheila Haskins, who has been involved for the past 12 years.
"A parishioner had available land, and we wanted to put it to use," she said.
The garden only grows food to donate, and recipients include Northwest Assistance Ministries, St. Anne's Food Pantry in Tomball, Prince of Peace and Magnificat House's Loaves and Fishes Program.
Last year, the garden produced 6,000 pounds of produce that were given to charitable organizations, Haskins said. There are 28 raised beds, each measuring 4-by-30 feet on the plot.
"You don't have to be a member of the church to help with the garden," she said. "We're definitely a community garden, and we always need volunteers."
The garden became a year-round project about four years ago instead of just planning in the spring and summer.
Haskins said this allows volunteers to provide more food to those in need.
"We need to improve diets for everyone," she said. "That's why we're dedicated to this. We're trying to produce as much as we can to give away."
She said providing fresh fruits and vegetables can make a difference for the recipients' diets since produce is often more expensive than less-healthy alternatives. Volunteers want to also give families hope, she added.
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow," she said.
For individuals who would like to help a worthy cause and take home some produce themselves, the donation garden at Plymouth United Church is an option.
Garden manager Judith Walden said it all started with a group of church members 25 years ago, with Bob and Muriel Williams at the helm. The garden has since been named after the couple.
Walden said that the garden lay fallow for a few years and was revived in 2012, right around the time she joined. A year later, she became team leader.
The 2,100-square-foot garden produces about 2,500 pounds of food a year.
"We're able to do it, but it's a giant project and we desperately need help," Walden said.
She encourages area residents to come out and volunteer. Most of the food is donated to the Northwest Assistance Ministries food pantry.
Recently, the garden was reorganized. Instead of being fully dedicated to charities, community members are also invited to have their own beds to grow produce for their families.
"Whatever is in excess, they donate," Walden said. "We always have space available, and if they need to learn to do it, we'll help them."
There are seven raised 5-by-5-foot beds, as well as 15 fruit trees in the orchard. The church also has a 3-acre field, which could be turned into additional garden plots for interested community members.
The force behind the creation of these donation gardens is local nonprofit Urban Harvest. The organization is focused on the local food movement and its three main programs center around farmers markets, gardening education and community gardens.
Executive Director Sandra Wicoff said the nonprofit was established in 1994 to help give people access to healthy foods to feed themselves and revitalize the community. Now Urban Harvest supports more than 100 community gardens.
"We offer a class on how to start a community or school garden," Wicoff said. "And we offer support. We do a site visit we have work days where we match volunteers. Our community gardeners can also take some of our classes for free."
The nonprofit also offers networking and social opportunities for gardeners and volunteers so they can share best practices.
Wicoff explained that the types of gardens vary. Some offer an opportunity for neighbors to grow food together, school gardens provide a hands-on learning environment and donation gardens produce fresh fruits and vegetables to feed those in need.
Having gardens in the community is vital, Wicoff added.
"It increases access to healthy food," she said. "And it keeps everything local, which has bigger implications for the environment. It's critical."