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Proud and Amazed: Samuels Community Garden’s Donation Program

Like many of our school-based community garden leaders, Kristy Sawyer, co-founder of the Samuels Community Garden, helped with the school-maintained garden plots over the summer. One Monday evening, she proudly surveyed how well the plots were doing, but then became alarmed thinking of how that food could go to waste. Luckily, she remembered that Jewish Family Service, a local nonprofit that provided local families and students with counseling and rent assistance, also had a food pantry.

Kristy and her family started harvesting the produce that evening. As they did so, other gardeners, who were watering their plots nearby, also offered to help and donated that evening’s harvest to the effort. Monday Night Summer Harvests were born on that day and have since become the community’s favorite activity. During that first summer, Samuels donated 160 pounds of fresh vegetables. In 2015, they increased the quantity to 280 pounds, and this last summer they donated 430 pounds to the food pantry.

Monday nights during the summer months represent families and community coming together for the greater good. The harvest requires lots of hands. Children pick peas, pull radishes, and help to water the school beds before wandering off to the playground with their friends. Adults delight in the weekly growth of the garden and catch-up with each other while grooming the herb bed, clipping the kale, and snacking on the occasional cherry tomato. A few dads gather around the grill, sending delicious smells into the air and preparing for the weekly potluck dinner.

Once the harvest is complete, we all gather around and share food. We hear our children singing songs from popular movies, we watch them swinging the baseball bat, we feel overwhelmed by the beauty of this common effort that brings us together. And, we are always proud and amazed with the abundance of food that we are able to share with our neighbors.