From the Ground Up: Planting Ideas for Local Growth - Capital Area Food Bank
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From the Ground Up: Planting Ideas for Local Growth

By Emily Osterhus February 15, 2010

Amidst all this snow and ice, I can’t believe I’m thinking about all things leafy and green! But, it is that time again when we invite all Capital Area Food Bank agencies to submit an application for the 2010 FGU Fresh Produce Grant—the program that sends participating agencies out to Clagett Farm to pick up free, sustainably grown produce twice a month from May to November. In 2009, we donated over 25,000 pounds of produce to eight member agencies that distribute food or provide meals to those in need.  An additional 5,000 lbs of produce was sold at half price to organizations and individuals that are or serve low-income individuals.
It seems like agencies that serve underprivileged people are always stretched to their limits.  So our challenge with the FGU program is to help agencies to learn about how to grow, store, and prepare fresh produce in a way that is exciting, but also manageable for busy agency staff members. Ultimately, our goal is to not only provide healthy food to front line organizations, but to help them become their own source of fresh produce through farmers markets, urban gardening, and partnerships with local growers.
Some agencies are a little hesitant at first, but they get the hang of it in no time. After two years of participating in the FGU Fresh Produce Grant, Martha’s Table has started growing their own produce on location! Last summer they built raised, movable garden beds in an underutilized parking lot by their trash bins.  This will be a learning tool for the kids in their daycare program. Bounty from the garden will supplement the produce received from Clagett farm to help feed kids in the daycare, as well as folks from the “McKenna’s Wagon” mobile food pantry. Growing in the beds are wax beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, kale, celery, morning glories, and lots of herbs. They even built a trashcan compost which can be easily rolled for aeration.  Check out the Martha’s Table post to see the whole story of their urban garden adventure!
Aromatic herbs help deter the smell from the trash bins behind them.

Can you believe they did all this in a matter of weeks? Go Martha’s Table!
The FGU Fresh Produce Grant is a partnership project of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clagett Farm and the CAFB with the goal of providing up to 50% of Clagett’s harvest to low-income individuals in the Washington, DC metro area.  We invite you to help us Share the Harvest by contributing to this wonderful collaboration. For more information about the FGU Fresh Produce Grant, or to get an application for your CAFB agency visit our FGU page.