With a little extra space, a few loose seeds and a few drops of sweat, Utah green thumbs can provide fresh fruits and vegetables for some of the state's needy.
For the 12th year, Utahns Against Hunger, a statewide food and nutrition advocacy organization, is asking gardeners to plant extra fruits and vegetables in their gardens to be distributed to low-income families around the state in September for the "Share-the-Harvest" project.Susan Paris, Utahns Against Hunger nutrition advocate, believes the Share-the-Harvest project is an excellent way to use those extra sacks of zucchinis or cucumbers almost always found at the end of the gardening season.
"Share the Harvest is an opportunity for the people of Utah to come together and respond in a meaningful way to the increasing problems of poverty and hunger in our own communities," Paris said.
According to Paris, contributors are often rewarded with the knowledge that fruits and vegetables grown in their backyard gardens are being enjoyed by a Utah family in need.
"There's something very satisfying about seeing a child's excitement over a fresh apple or a mother with a sack of tomatoes that will soon become salsa," Paris said.
Norma Lunt, a frequent contributor and volunteer with the Share-the-Harvest project, has seen the spirit of giving frequently passed on to those who receive.
"I remember a woman who occasionally stopped by one of the food stations to pick up vegetables for herself and her children," Lunt said. "The woman had been living in her car after she was thrown out of her home by her husband. After she found part-time work teaching school, she contributed a portion of her first paycheck to purchase food for the needy."
Paris hopes this year's project can exceed the success enjoyed in years past.
"Last year, the project generated 55 tons of food for some 18,000 Utahns," Paris said.
Individuals and groups wishing to learn more about the project can contact Susan Paris at Utahns against Hunger, 328-2561.