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The Northern Kentucky Community Gardens has partnered with the newly established local nonprofit Harvest Stewards, LLC, to get produce into local food pantries. Each week Shan Bentz, director of Harvest Stewards, sets out and collects a bin at each garden site for gardeners to voluntarily share any excess vegetables they might have.
During the first growing season with the partnership in place, Harvest Stewards collected over 115 pounds of produce. The food that Harvest Stewards collected has gone to Action Ministries, Fairhaven Rescue Mission and Be Concerned.
“Most gardeners reach a point where they have more tomatoes or zucchinis than they know what to do with and we are glad to have provided them with a meaningful place to send such nutritious food,” said Rachel Wirrig, a gardener and member of the Northern Kentucky Community Garden Committee and associate pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church.
Bentz said the new partnership helps spread the Harvest Stewards narrative of “growing a little, giving a little.” He said it is not only the recipients of the produce who benefit through this type of program; it also helps create a greater sense of community, interdependence and responsibility for the care of others.
The Northern Kentucky Community Gardens will continue to partner with Harvest Stewards and Wirrig encourages other community garden sites to do so as well. “All we had to do was agree to let [Harvest Stewards] place the bins and let the gardeners know the option to share was available. Shan did the rest. It was so easy,” she said.
Harvest Stewards, LLC is working toward becoming a 501c3 charitable giving organization and Bentz said the organization hopes to expand its garden partnerships.
For more information on Harvest Stewards or the Northern Kentucky Community Gardens, contact Maggie Gough in the NKU Wellness Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.