It’s January, and many of us have set new year resolutions to eat healthier and exercise. Gardening and growing your own produce can help achieve both of those goals! According to the Center for Disease Control, gardening is a moderate physical activity that can burn up to 330 calories per hour. That’s more than walking or bicycling, and equivalent to golfing or dancing! And enjoying time outdoors, connecting with nature is a rewarding way to relax and improve overall emotional health.
Does it get any better than that? Yes! By signing up with Neighbors Nourishing Communities and donating a portion of your produce to the Tualatin Food Pantry, you get gardening advice, the opportunity to learn about new and more nutritious produce we can grow in our region, free plants and seeds, and the “feel good” benefit of helping our community. Whether you are passionate about gardening or just experimenting and getting started, this is an opportunity for you to achieve your personal goals while helping others.
Neighbors Nourishing Communities (NNC) is a Tualatin non-profit organization entering it’s 6th growing season. We supply the seeds and plant starts, and you supply the garden spot at the convenience of your home or office. With a little water and some love – we all benefit with a bounty of organically grown, beautiful produce. We ask that you donate 20% of your harvest to the Tualatin Schoolhouse Pantry for families in need. The other 80%, along with the rewards of a healthy garden and healthier you – are all yours! Last year NNC gardeners donated over 4,100 pounds of produce!
I’ve personally always enjoyed gardening, but have grown the basics like tomatoes and cucumbers. Through working with NNC, I’m now growing purple potatoes, leeks, red onions, lettuce, kale and more. It is fun, and so nutritious to pick a salad from my garden, knowing that the produce is at the peak of their nutritional value and organically grown. Any size of garden works, whether it’s a single container or a full backyard garden.
Many gardeners pick their donation produce on Sunday and drop it by an NNC collection site. NNC makes deliveries to the Tualatin Food Pantry, where the produce is quickly distributed to those in need. Gardeners harvest the rest of the week for their own family. It’s that simple. Fresh produce is more costly than less-nutritional food, and can be unobtainable for many families. This is an opportunity to help combat a growing need.
NNC will be handing out seeds (from beans to zucchini), onion starts, and seed potatoes on Saturday, April 6. The organization has partnered with MITCH Charter School where students are growing many varieties of tomato and pepper starts as a school project. Senior gardeners at Brookdale River Valley Tualatin will be raising plant starts such as flowers and herbs for your garden. These garden plant starts will be handed out to NNC gardeners in May.
Families struggling to make ends meet can also contact Neighbors Nourishing Communities for gardening assistance. The organization supports families in need by providing free community gardening beds and tools, along with plants and seeds.