If you’re wondering where to find free fresh food, look no further than where you work, live and grow! Here are a few places Glean found food this week.
1. Coworkers (gardeners with bumper crops)
One of Glean’s biggest inspirations has been gardeners with bumper crops. Without much difficulty, you’ll find gardeners from July through October asking:
“Would you take some cantaloupe? Cucumbers? Tomatoes? Zucchini”?!?
– Desperate Gardeners, Everywhere
Most of us are fortunate enough to know someone with extras who is proud to share the over abundance of whatever they have grown. Every summer, my friend and coworker generously shares her rhubarb trimmings in the clinic “breakroom”. This is the primary ingredient of my rhubarb oatmeal crisp, smoothies and jam.
2. Family members (pregnant and moving)
I take no joy in saying that my only sister is moving out of state. I wish she, my brother-in-law, niece and nephews were staying close so I could love on them more. But after the moving guys showed her the list of items they couldn’t pack (cleaning supplies, aerosols and flammable stuff from the garage) they also included her container plants and soil.
“Could you take them… ALL?”
– Colleen O., Sioux Falls, SD, at her wits end
She had expensive decorative plants, aloe succulents… oh, and my niece’s pea plant from pre-school. Of course I would!
3. Friends (urban-dwellers)
Chicks sold at most retail stores are often unsexed, meaning an unknown mix of males and females. Although hens are generally preferred, the law of averages gives generally a 50:50 mix. My girlfriend, who ordered a 6 White Silkie Bantams, started noticing one or two were more proud than the others and picked at the other chicks feathers. She further explained that this breed is considered the puppy dogs of the chicken world since they love people so much. Unfortunately, the town she lives in allows a maximum of 6 chickens and no roosters. So my friend called before he started crowing.
“Would you like him for your acreage”? She cheerfully added “For free of course”!
-Senta P., Sioux Falls
Of our 20 or so chickens, we don’t have a single rooster. Her generous offer will provide us unlimited chicks in the spring, added protection for the ladies, (and meat if the two of us don’t work out).
4. Kitchen Scraps
Save some key plants from the compost and grow new food with indoor containers or in your backyard. Check out this site from diyncrafts to learn how to regrow 25 different foods. The site includes how to plant scraps of lettuce, basil, avocados, celery, green onions, potatoes, beets…even pineapple, after you’ve enjoyed the original harvest.
5. Garden Exchange Sites
Communities of almost every size have Facebook pages dedicated to exchange gardening wisdom and produce. It is easier than ever to try new foods, exchange recipes and learn how to plant them yourselves. This week I found apricots available for the taking. From now until the first hard frost, you’ll likely find something worthy to try in your area.
6. “Waste” From Other Gardens
My good friends have a fabulous grove of Concord grape vines. They eat the grapes from the vine, juice and freeze them like we all would. But they were surprised to hear how great the leaves taste! Grape leaves, stuffed with rice, craisins, mint, oregano, walnuts and lemon juice is one of my favorite vegetarian meals.
Weeds that fill all our gardens this time of year often are delicious as well. Consider taking a class to identify, select and prepare foods like dandelion and milkweed for additional food sources.
Also consider coriander, the seeds from cilantro plants, as a spice for curries, rubs, roasted vegetables. Roast the seeds and add them to a pepper grinder for a unique flavor!
As always, please comment and post ways you are finding free, fresh, local produce in the comments section! We all would like to hear your stories and recipes!