For the second straight year, the Master Gardeners of Hancock County have been awarded $500 for producing and collecting the most produce among the State’s medium sized Master Gardener counties. This produce was donated to food banks for use in distributing it to those in need.
Hancock County has been actively involved in the United Way Community Garden initiative for 3 years. So been involved in the GrowOhio initiative was just a continuance of what the group had been doing; raising produce and donating back to the community. GrowOhio is a food donation program sponsored by Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. The goal of the program is to feed hungry residents in food deserts or without means to purchase fresh food.
In 2017, Hancock County gave 6,276 pounds of produced to 3 organizations, City Mission, Hope House and West Ohio Food Bank. The produce was gathered from our community garden, from Master Gardener volunteer personal gardens or from gleaning from local farmers.
Several devote Master Gardener volunteers started the season in February planning the garden, ordering seeds, raising the plants, transplanting the plants into the garden, planting seeds, and controlling weeds. This year Hancock County had some challenges with weather; first a flood, around both dry conditions before and after the flood. The amount of produce raised was very similar to previous years.
This year we also setup a Hugelculture garden at the community garden for demonstration purposes. This garden is a 3-foot-tall by 3 foot wide garden built on logs, sticks, compost and top soil. It allows the plants to use the material for plant nutrients and to plant many plants in a small space. This garden had mixed results as the drier conditions and a ground hog kept the garden from producing like we thought it could produce for a first-year setup.
In October, 8 Master Gardeners dug 3,175 pounds of potatoes from a local potato field that were going to be left by the farmer and not used. Cooperation from the West Ohio Food Bank was essential as they brought a lift truck and we had the process down to digging the potatoes, placing them in buckets which got weighed and them dumped onto crates in the lift truck.
We also gleaned 340 pounds of apples from a local farmer that would have gone to waste, however this process provided food from residents at Findlay’s City Mission.
All in all, the gardening project is a fun, team effort and providing food to the resident who are in need seems like a small thing our volunteers can do to help with this need. Winning the award and being able to do more next year in the garden with this money is great, but remembering why it is being done is the major point and memory.
Photos and story by Karl Farwig