“The seedlings were just a catalyst. Like many others, I was starting to feel powerless as COVID became a reality this winter. I thought that by asking gardeners to share their home grown food, I could not only bring awareness to issues of food insecurity, I could provide others with an opportunity to feel a sense of purpose. By each doing a small part and pooling our resources we can have a big impact.” -Cat Kahn, Founder, HarvestShare
COVID-19 has changed our way of life, and as a community we are all finding different ways to cope. In response to the current health and economic crisis, the demands on local food pantries have increased exponentially and the need is anticipated to rise throughout the fall. In noticing this trend, HarvestShare was established as an initiative to connect backyard and community gardeners to the food assistance efforts in Montgomery County, MD.
HarvestShare began when Cat Kahn, a Rockville resident and member of the Montgomery County Master Gardeners, received 400 seedlings from a local high school to use in a project at Manna Food Center, teaching food assistance recipients how to grow their own vegetables. COVID-19 forced the cancellation of this project, and Cat did not want these vegetable plants to go to waste. She started collecting more plants from around the County and distributing them to fellow gardeners, asking them to consider donating some of their home-grown produce to the food assistance network. As a result, HarvestShare was born.
HarvestShare’s mission is to connect gardeners and growers to work together to make a bigger impact on the community. Recently, the organization partnered with KindWorks, a community-based non-profit, to expand this project. Growers are asked to drop off their surplus produce at predetermined collection sites, where volunteer drivers will pick it up for distribution to non-profits and food assistance providers throughout the community.
Neighborhoods, community gardens, and garden clubs in the County are encouraged to set up their own collection sites and schedules, and HarvestShare will connect them with local food assistance providers. To date, HarvestShare has supported several organizations in the County, including Rainbow Community Development, Mid-County United Ministries, Gaithersburg Help, Balck Rock Hub, So What Else and many more. In the winter season, HarvestShare plans to conduct Zoom presentations about seed starting, garden planning, and other relevant topics to interested residents and partners. The Food Council thanks HarvestShare for their innovation and continued support of our community members during these challenging times. To learn more about HarvestShare’s work, please click here.