Monday, February 16, 2015


Evidence that the holy grail exist and that Monty Python's knights were looking in all the wrong places. Yes... I'm talking about the seeds.

The seeds are in and we are so happy to once again have them available for those looking to garden and grow their own food in their backyards, community gardens, and windows boxes or patios.  

We will also be using them for garden education once again this year, with a SEED STARTING WORKSHOP coming up in March which will be held at the Fredonia Farmers Market.  

Pole and bush beans donated in bulk by Park Seed Company of Greenwood, South Carolina.

If you live in a tiny apartment without room to grow your own, please contact me at and I will help to hook you up with a community gardening partner.  

A wealth of vegetable and flower seeds donated to the Gleaning Project from Burpee! 

If you have a wealth of land to plant on, think about growing a few beds or rows of edible plants to donate to a soup kitchen or food pantry nearest you!  

Even some organic seeds for our community and educational gardens.
And finally, if you work for a non-profit or other human services/mental health agency; please contact me to acquire seeds for your clients.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Getting Ready to Garden

Yes. I know it is only January.  And yes. I am aware that the high temp. for the day is 20 degrees F. but I CANNOT HELP thinking about our 2015 gardens.  

Dunkirk Weather Report >.<

My cat, he's cute, no?

Will there be rows of beans or carrots, or both?  Will I have to fend off ravenous deer, mega rude rabbits, or old people who can't remember taking all the tomatoes?  Will the kids at BOCES and the Boy's and Girl's Club want to grow potatoes, peas, or gigantic pumpkins?  SO MANY QUESTIONS... maybe that's why I can't sleep.  Actually, no, the reason I can't sleep is because my cat is an extraordinarily vocal jerk.  

So, back to the gardens.

Some commonly asked questions:

1.) Why Do We Grow Food?

Here in Dunkirk, there is a fresh food scarcity due to the small number of groceries, ridiculous amount of convenience stores, and lack of transportation and funds from the people who live in this area.  38% of the overall population lives in poverty, while the childhood poverty rate is 48%.  The county average is 18%, which coincides with NYS poverty rate.  Point being, Dunkirk needs more access to fresh, organically grown food and we are happy to provide that!

2.) How Do We Do It on a Tight Budget?

Honestly, it requires a lot of mailing, a few too many phones calls, and a TON of thank you notes to make the Gardening Program what it is.  This time of year, I mail over 30 seed companies across the country asking for seed donations from their excess supplies.  In mid-June, I call greenhouses to see if they have any extra vegetable and flower plants that are overgrown and not-selling.  Then, when all the supplies are acquired, I head out to the garden plots armed with my shovel and allergy medicine to grow food for the soup kitchen and food pantry.  

Students at the BOCES Education Garden incorporating soil amendments (i.e. goat poop) into the garden.

3.) Is This REALLY My Job?

Yes, yes it is.

As gardening season draws closer and I get more obsessive about where exactly I am going to plant the tomatoes, feel free to drop a call at (716) 366-1787 asking for gardening tips, sourcing ideas, and extra seeds and plants. 
A box of seed donations from Heirloom Seed Company!

We ALWAYS have free seeds to hand out starting in April, as well as free plants to giveaway around early July.  Whether you're a home gardener in Chautauqua County, or you work for an agency that you think would benefit from gardening supplies, you qualify for free seeds!  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Looking Back on 2014

Gleaning grapes in Fredonia.
2014 was a big year for gleaning.  Farmers from all over the county contributed to helping those in need by donating portions of their farms and fields to feed the hungry.
Below are our year-end statistics for 2014.

35,915 lbs.
FOOD RECOVERED (from bakeries)
2,278 lbs.
1,300 lbs.

Flower donation from Westfield Nursery in Chautauqua County.

Here in Dunkirk, NY, we also hosted over 40 cooking and nutrition workshops reaching out to low-income families and individuals.  
620 persons
-Cooking out of the Cupboard
-Preserving the Harvest: Canning and Christina
-Going Gluten-Free: Part I & II
-Springtime Cooking
-Eating Local in Chautauqua County
-How to Make the Perfect Quiche
-Real Food Fall Time Favorites
-Eating with Type II Diabetes
-How to Make Applesauce
-How to Make Grape Juice
-What's in Season? Ratatouille

Easy as Pie Workshop with Christina Jarvis and Jeanne Frerichs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

No Better Time than Pumpkin Time

It's the time of year where all you want to do at the end of the day is sit down with a steaming mug of hot cocoa and a darn good book to read.  Perhaps you imagine yourself in an oversize snuggie, or maybe cuddling with your cute, fluffy, semi-evil cat.  Where ever your imagination takes you, it should be a mission of yours' to keep this recipe in mind.

Pumpkin-y Goodness Cocoa Full of Yummy-ness and Sunshine
Serves 1
     -2 tbsp. pumpkin
     -3/4 cup soymilk, cowmilk, or whatever milk you like
     -2 tsp. cocoa
     -3-4 drops liquid stevia (you can use 3 tsp. of sugar in place of stevia)
     -1 tsp. molasses
     -a dash of nutmeg

Heat up milk in a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and heat through. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy.  

And this one! Don't forget this recipe!
This is my favorite recipe in the whole wide-world for when company comes over.  It is soooo tasty and it tricks my friends and family into eating more good-for-you garlic than what they know!  
Go to your local farmers' market and stock up on winter veggie staples like potatoes, onions, garlic, and squash for this recipe.

Roasted Winter Veggies
Serves 8 to 10
     -5 to 6 cups chopped potatoes, red. yellow, purple, fingerling, whatever
     -3 large carrots
     -2 large yellow onions
     -1 large red onion
     -1 to 2 bulbs garlic
     -5 to 6 large beets
     -2 to 3 delicata squash (the small yellow squash with green stripes)
     -1/3 cup olive oil
     -1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
     -2 tbsp. dried Italian herbs
     -salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Chop everything up to around the same size and place into a large, preferably glass baking dish.  Pour olive oil and vinegar on top and toss to coat.  Sprinkle herbs, salt, and pepper, to taste.  Place in oven and set timer for 15 minutes.  After timer goes off, stir veggies and place back in for another 15 minutes.  Repeat 2 to 3 times until veggies are tender. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gleaning: Our Numbers So Far

We are halfway through the gleaning season, busily racing to pick aging corn, softening melons, and mammoth zucchinis.  Already, I have tapped out my volunteer list serve with notifications of gleaning opportunities, and the few volunteers that do occasionally show up appear haggard and impatient for the season to be over. I can't blame them! 

As of today, we have gleaned 21,681 lbs of produce in Chautauqua County from farm fields and gardens this year, with 74% of the total from the month of August alone! Needless to say, August has been a busy month!

Gleaning beans at Anderson's Produce in Jamestown

So... What are we doing with all this food?

Here's the list:
-Freezing it
-Handing it out to soup kitchen visitors
-Distributing it in our food pantry
-Cooking it into the soup kitchen meals
-Dropping it off at other soup kitchens, food pantries, and human services agencies
-Giving aging produce to farmers for their livestock
-And handing it out to anyone who will take it!

And even though our numbers are great and we are constantly busy with gleaning, distributing, and preserving produce, we can always use new places to glean!  If you have a fruit tree, a garden, or a farm where some of the food goes to waste now and then, please let us know!  We are always happy for a call to glean, no matter how big or small the job.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Know What You're Buying

Found this awesome information for buying produce at a grocery store!!!!!  Write this down on a piece of paper and slip it into your wallet or post it on your refrigerator at home to help you remember!