Garden & Gleaning Programs
HHFB's Garden & Gleaning programs provide locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables for free distribution to those in need of emergency food assistance in our area. Volunteers and community supporters are the most important asset our programs have; the more volunteers, the more fresh food we raise and rescue.
Volunteers are needed most during the main growing season, April through October. No gardening experience is necessary.
Our weekly garden volunteer hours are-
Download the Garden & Gleaning Programs brochure (757 KB).
Our Garden Program was born out of a continuing effort to increase the amount and nutritional quality of food provided to area food pantries and soup kitchens. To meet a rapidly growing need for emergency food assistance, we have had to consider new ways to obtain food. Growing our own allows us to bring in varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables most needed at the food bank.
During the 2013 season we planted and harvested our first crops from our new garden site at Will Detmer Park of Monroe County Parks and Recreation Department. They have generously granted us the long term use of 1 ¼ acres parcel of land along with a shed, washing station, irrigation, a large compost area, deer fencing, and the use of a tractor. Our garden location is just a mile from the food banks main facility at 4140 W. Vernal Pike.
Last season we focused on building our soil fertility by cover cropping over half of the garden and adding tons of compost that we make on site. Along with building the soil we planted ½ an acre of vegetables and grew 10,806 pounds of produce! Onions, summer squash and beets were the top producing crops for the season. During the 2014 growing season we will be planting a full acre of produce ranging from tomatoes and peppers to highly nutritious kale and beets. We will continue our efforts in building our soil and engaging the community in helping us grow tons more produce that will help fill our agencies shelves and coolers this summer.
Volunteering in our garden is a wonderful way to learn from and share with other volunteers and our Garden Coordinator about sustainable growing. We use organic practices such as crop rotation, cover cropping, and making our own compost out of food the food bank can no longer distribute. In 2013, over 200 volunteers helped grow and harvest 10,806 pounds of produce from our garden to increase community-wide access to fresh, nutritious foods.
- Training and support are provided to volunteers during each volunteer session.
- Please dress for a possible mess, wear sturdy shoes, bring drinking water in refillable containers, sunscreen, hats, gloves if you wish to wear them, and anything else you need to take care of yourself outside.
- Gleaning takes place on several area farms. There are many classic farm elements including unleashed dogs, cats, and insects.
- An assortment of tools is provided, but if you have your favorites, feel free to bring them along.
Hoosier Hills Food Bank partners with local farmers and depends on volunteers to harvest excess produce. In turn, we have more fresh, local, and nutritious produce to distribute to our 95 member agencies. In six years of gleaning we’ve partnered with six different farms and over 70 volunteers to harvest 79,886 pounds of fresh, local fruits and vegetables.
Volunteers travel to local farms and harvest excess fruits and vegetables from the fields.
Why we glean
- 20% of all produce grown in commercial agriculture is lost because it is aesthetically not fit to sell.
- Perfectly edible fruits and vegetables are left in the fields to rot.
- This is significant in Indiana where 303,440 households are food-insecure.
“My time in the garden was a healthy break from office chairs and fluorescent lights. Having that direct contact with the earth as well as the growing cycle for food helped me to think about what really matters in life. At the end of the day, knowing that I had contributed to providing someone with fresh, healthy produce that they otherwise would not have access to was incredibly rewarding. “
“It's a rare opportunity to find such dedicated and genuine people as those at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. Working at the garden has not only provided me an outlet for community service, but a chance to spend time with kind souls. As a graduate student, I appreciate the chance to get outside and marvel at what the 1-acre farm is able to produce. As a member of the Bloomington community, I appreciate the chance to help provide for those in need.”
“I enjoyed volunteering at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank farm this past summer. It was wonderful to see rows and rows of vegetables, fruits and flowers grown throughout the season thanks to the expert planning and growing knowledge of the HHFB staff. From the many crates of kale, chard, carrots, melons (and so much more) I carried and washed for distribution, I can personally attest that HHFB is doing a superb job of providing locally grown fresh produce for our South Central Indiana friends. Besides thoroughly enjoying all things food/gardening/farm related, I have a strong belief everyone deserves access to fresh nutritious food to take control of their health. I look forward to being a regular volunteer at the new HHFB farm location.
See the Garden & Gleaning calendar for upcoming volunteer opportunities.
The HHFB Garden is located just west of Bloomington at 4140 W. Vernal Pike.
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In addition to donating your time as a volunteer, HHFB Garden & Gleaning Programs can use your support in obtaining other things we need. Our current needs are compiled in an Amazon wish list.
Note: We in no way endorse any of these sellers, nor are we guaranteeing that these are the best prices, this Amazon list is simply an efficient way to share information about the products we could really use. Many of these items may even be available from a local retailer.
Check out this Garden and Gleaning video, generously made by Max, Frankie and Jennifer Vickers during our 2012 season.
For more information contact the Garden & Gleaning Programs Cooridinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (812) 334-8374.