Last year, gardeners responded to the hunger crisis by reviving the Victory Garden movement, growing and donating over 23 tons of produce to
food banks and pantries across Colorado through the Grow & Give project. (Photo: Shutterstock).

Carol O'Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Lingering impacts from a disrupted world are hitting our community, with hunger a growing problem. Last year, gardeners responded to the crisis by reviving the Victory Garden movement, growing and donating over 23 tons of produce to food banks and pantries across Colorado through the Grow & Give project.

Victory Gardens have been cultivated throughout our history as a country, popping up when events take a toll on our collective wellbeing. During economic crashes, depression and war, people sow, grow and share. As spring warms the soil and the itch to plant consumes us, gardeners are being asked to plant extra to help combat a rise in hunger. The numbers from this aspect of our shared catastrophe are grim.

Hunger Free Colorado, bit.ly/hfcCOVIDsurvey, conducted quarterly surveys in 2020, mapping the increase in hunger due to heightened effects from the pandemic. Their third statewide survey, conducted in December, found almost 38 percent of Coloradans are food insecure, lacking reliable access to nutritious food. This is more than two times what Colorado experienced during the Great Recession.

The survey found that more than half of households with children are struggling to have regular access to nutritious food, while 19 percent of children are not getting adequate nutrition because there is not enough money for food. Twenty-five-percent of adults reported having to cut back or skip meals because there wasn’t enough money to buy food.

Gardeners, we give advice, seeds and plant divisions freely to anyone who’ll take them. We joke about too many zucchinis or the year cherry tomatoes buried us. Let’s plan for that bounty this year in order for others to eat and plant an extra hill or two of zucchini or pop another cherry tomato vine in the ground. Let’s sow for our community as well as ourselves.

Want to grow food but need a bit of advice? Check out the new Grow & Give website, growandgivecolorado.org, to find short how-to videos, longer webinars, or information sheets on growing fruits and vegetables in your garden. You’ll find information added weekly, but if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, send me an e-mail with your suggestion.

Sign the pledge to donate part of your harvest and join a community of concerned gardeners who want to make a difference. The website has a map of food pantries and locations for drop off, along with information on days and times they’re accepting donations.

You can help. Plant extra and donate it to pantries, to your neighbors who need it, or friends who have seen a decrease in income. Whether it’s a dozen carrots or a hundred tomatoes, it doesn’t matter. Grow, and give.

Join CSU Extensions Boulder County Master Gardener Tree Team for a free webinar on Managing Fireblight, a serious disease of apple, pear, crabapple and other trees in that family. Thursday, May 20, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on line. Register at: zoom.us/webinar/register/5916195387219/WN_Cn7jLTgLSTu8SUqgQPbfXw and you’ll be sent a link to the webinar.

If you’re interested in learning about the benefits of fungi in the garden and how to grow mushrooms, join us for a lunch-and-learn webinar June 3 at 12 noon, for Uncovering Mushrooms. Register at zoom.us/webinar/register/6716195390538/WN_D_JtHz-uS3iVf3k7j28h4g to be sent a link for the free class.

As you grow, Master Gardeners are here to answer your questions virtually, via our e-mail help desk; e-mail questions and photos to us at: mggpa@bouldercounty.org.

By Carol A. O’Meara. Carol is an Extension Agent – Horticulture Entomology at Colorado State University Extension Boulder County. For more information contact CSU Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6377, e-mail comeara@bouldercounty.org or visit ext.colostate.edu/boulder.