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Growing Food for the Common Good at an Idaho People’s Garden

Posted by Avery Richburg, American Studies Program Intern, USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in Initiatives
Oct 26, 2012
This Idaho People’s Garden donated over 5,000 pounds of food this summer to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Boise.
This Idaho People’s Garden donated over 5,000 pounds of food this summer to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Boise.

Located on about a half an acre of land in Boise, Idaho is a USDA People’s Garden. This land wasn’t always so fruitful. In fact, it was barren for almost 30 years due to a lack of water available on the property. In 2010, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Idaho State Office teamed up with Amity United Methodist Church of Boise to create a People’s Garden. The land is now a flourishing garden that produces many fruits and vegetables year round thanks in part to a new water distribution system.

The garden started out with a few fruit trees and raspberry plants. It has now grown to include a bounty of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, lettuce, radish, cabbage, carrots, spinach, zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, beans, peppers, and pumpkins. The fresh produce is donated to a local food pantry that works with the Idaho Food Bank.

This year the FSA office decided to use the garden to participate in the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive (FFF).  FFF is a nation-wide federal employee effort to re-stock the shelves of food banks and pantries over the summer months when need is high but supplies are generally lower. USDA was challenged to donate 1.8 million pounds of food throughout the summer months, and exceeded that goal collecting a whopping 2.77 million pounds of food for donation!  This People’s Garden donated 5,124 pounds of food to FFF this summer through the People’s Garden Initiative’s ‘Share Your Harvest’ effort.

So far this year the garden has produced 17,489 pounds of harvest, the majority of which was donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. This year’s production surpasses last year's production of 16,220 pounds. The garden volunteers also are drying and packaging basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.

In January 2012, a greenhouse project was taken on by a student working on his Eagle Scout badge.  Volunteers from the Boy Scout Troop, FSA, and Amity United Methodist Church worked on the project. The greenhouse is used to produce different plants year round since it provides a more stable environment for plants to grow. It was designed by FSA Farm Loan Specialist Dan Mattson, and is made of redwood and polycarbonate. This greenhouse was completed mid-April 2012. The hope is that in 2013 the greenhouse can also be used as a learning center.

Category/Topic: Initiatives