The Brighton (Colorado) Chamber of Commerce recently recognized our friends at Brighton Shares the Harvest with the Nonprofit of the Year Award. Congratulations to Linda C. Young and her group of dedicated volunteers for organizing a community effort to donate 4,300 servings of fresh produce to area families!
I met Linda through our mutual interests in growing and giving programs. Here’s the story of how her desire to get fresh produce to hungry families was the seed that’s sprouted into something big in Brighton:
In the summer of 2009, Linda kept hearing about communities and their efforts to make fresh, local produce available to those who couldn’t afford it or didn’t have access to it.
“We have a lot of families who rely on our local food pantries for supplemental food assistance and fresh produce isn’t always available to them,” Linda said.
So she started talking with pantry directors about their needs and got the word out to local media on how the community could help. Now Linda is executive director of the nonprofit she created called Brighton Shares the Harvest. Its mission is to put more fresh produce on more tables.
One of the group’s projects is called the Bloomin’ Bucket Brigade. Volunteers hand out planted buckets to senior citizens and others who don’t have space for a traditional garden.
“This is a great project that involves multiple organizations in the community,” Linda said. “Several groups help us gather large buckets with handles and the Brighton Boys & Girls Club drills drainage holes and paints the buckets.”
Harmony Gardens, a Brighton nursery, donated tomato seedlings and potting soil for volunteers to use in planting the decorated buckets. Volunteers gave away 81 buckets at an ice cream social in early June.
“There’s a lot of positive response from gardeners and the community in general,’ Linda said. “Many people have said they never thought about giving their extra produce to a food pantry or didn’t know we had food pantries in Brighton.”
Here are three tips for anyone who would like to follow Linda’s lead:
- Find your clients first. Contact local food pantries and organizations that provide food services. Ask about their needs for receiving and distributing fresh produce.
- Spread the word. Get to know your local media and talk to community gardeners, school districts, and service organizations to spread the word on how they can help.
- Build community partnerships. Be creative and look for ways to build alliances with food pantries, non-profit agencies, city agencies, and other groups that can help.
If you want more information about Brighton Shares the Harvest or to reach Linda directly visit www.BrightonSharesTheHarvest.org.