Especially during the summer months, I receive and give away a LOT of FREE food that has nothing to do with the garden produce. I have been in the "food distribution" business for 11 years, have distributed TONS (and I mean that literally) of FREE FOOD and have never received a penny for my efforts.
HOW I GOT STARTED in this business:
To understand why I do what I do, you have to know a little about my background. Dave and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on June 8, 2009. During the past 30 years, we've been through THREE difficult, stressful lay offs. Jumping ahead in time, we now have 4 grown children, 2 boys and 2 girls, all who are great kids and live is good.
Things weren't always so easy. Early in our marriage, Dave was working and going to school. I was at home raising young children without much money to live on - especially food money. I hadn't taken the time to develop the cooking skills I now have today or learn about storing food for a "rainy day" or even how to prepare for a crisis in my own life.
Then it hit: our first big layoff, 10 years into our marriage. Even though Dave had a BS in Math and was a qualified, skilled computer software engineer, we were hit hard. That first lay off was a HUGE wake up call for me. Besides being a physical stress, it was super hard to tell anyone that you have no food in the house and you have no money coming for another 5 days. It's embarrassing to admit that you haven't managed your finances and resources as well as you should have. It was hard to tell anyone, especially extended family members.
That's how I felt. It was prideful of me to feel that way but I know many people who can relate to this mindset.
It was a hard trial in my adult, married life but one that I am so grateful that I experienced first hand. It changed the course of my life. It was a pivotal defining time in my life. If I had not had that difficult experience, I wouldn't have the deep kind of empathy needed to help and understand other people who are in that same boat today. I can honestly say, I've been there, done that.
I want to help people who are hurting and who may hesitate to speak up. If you are that person, you NEED to learn how to speak up and tell someone, email me especially and let me know because I do truly understand your situation. If you are not hurting for lack of food, you need to look around you, pay attention and be observant. You will find people who are hurting but don't want to broadcast it to the world!
This is why I am in the Food Distribution Business. I can't help everyone but I can do something. I can help those who are not "homeless" but are really struggling to keep food on the table for their children and family members while they are trying to get back on their feet.
America is a VERY wasteful country. I have learned that from past experience. But many owners/managers in the food industry don't like throwing extra food away, they just don't want to get sued AND they don't know who to call to give it to. They don't have the time to run all over the valley to distribute free food. That is not THEIR business.
The homeless shelters and food banks have their sources of getting food. I've learned that there are several other businesses who would gladly give you their extra food if you work on their conditions.
That is what I've done for the past 11 years and I've built a team of people who help me do this. I'm running a marathon, which means I have to make it comfortable enough to stay with it several years. If I did all the work, I'd burn out quickly and I wouldn't have lasted anywhere near 11 years!
Bottom line: I've worked with around 9 companies who call me and give me food. In return, I find homes for all of it within 12 hours from the time I picked it up from them.
Just so we are clear, I'm not a dumpster diver. Food companies contact me (sometimes within 8 hours after the food was made). I stop whatever I'm doing, go pick up the food, sometimes it's a lot and sometimes it's a little. I work with them on their schedule. As soon as I get the food, I immediately shoot out an email to my Free Food Group. Whoever contacts me back via email and comes over to my home to pick it up at the specified times that day, gets the food.
If you want to be part of my FREE FOOD Group, you need to email me soon. I will let you know how I run this program and all the details. Contact me via email.
Many people think that if you don't have everything planted right now, June 24, then you are too late to plant for the season. NOT SO! There are all kinds of things to plant throughout the summer. It's also a good idea to "stagger" your planting so you have crops coming up all different times during the growing season, and not all at once.
Below are just some of the seeds you can plant in July and August:
PLANT (from seed) LAST PLANTING
Corn: Third week of July
Peas: Last week of July
Carrots: Last week of July
Pole beans: First week of Aug
Swiss chard: Second week of Aug
Beets: Second week of Aug
Summer Squash: Second week of Aug
Bush beans: Second week of Aug
Lettuce: Third week of Aug
Spinach: Third week of Aug
Broccoli: Third week of Aug
Radishes: Second week of Sept
Cabbage leaves, broccoli leaves, pea leaves, beet greens, beets, spinach, green carrot tops, carrots, pea pods, grape leaves, grapes, etc. The list goes on. I'll be doing more demonstrating to show you how to get the MOST out of our gardens!!
Let your family, co-workers, friends and neighbors know that there is a very large, organized, local Garden Group, (that's us) made up of men, women and children, who are all hard workers, who will gladly come and pick excess produce (fruits and veggies) that they don't want or can't use.
I know how much fruit, for example, can come from just ONE tree. It can often be very overwhelming. Many times people, in that situation, don't want to waste it but they don't know who to contact, who would be willing to come and pick it from the trees/plants and take it away. Tell them to contact me and I'll shoot out an email to everyone to come and participate. We'll be doing this a lot this summer so watch your emails and free up some time, especially in the evenings.
We'll have LOTS of "Picking Parties"!!!
I find it interesting to see the type of person who joins my Gardening Group. They come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all abilities, all ethnic and religious backgrounds, etc. They all seem to have a different reason why they want to join our group:
1) Some want to lose weight and become more active. They want to do something healthy for themselves after work instead of plopping down in front of the TV for the evening.
2) Some don't want to go home to an empty house. They may be widowed or live alone. They love being active but don't really care if they get any of the harvest.
3) Some want to learn HOW to garden and have no idea where to begin so they copy a lot of what we do here in our gardens, then go home and do the same in theirs.
4) Some are motivated to come so they'll get the fresh organic homegrown produce which they crave so much.
5) Some are motivated to teach their children how to work in the gardens so they bring their kids. I was concerned at the beginning of the season about bringing kids (at that time we were using chain saws and other heavy equipment to clear the ground) but since then, they have been some of our VERY best workers.
6) Some live in condo's or apartments and have fond memories of working on a farm or growing up gardening with their family in their own backyard but don't have any space to do it now. They are definitely drawn to our group.
BOTTOM LINE: Everyone who joins is a hard worker, loves being here, has a great attitude, gets along great with others - young and old, works well together, and is grateful for opportunities to eat TONS of fresh produce, learn valuable garden skills and get to know other like-minded people who aren't afraid to get dirty, work hard and play in the dirt.