GROWING PRODUCE FOR FOOD PANTRIES

Origin Story

PLANTING THE SEED

Seed2Need was started in 2008 by Sandy and Penny Davis in a neighbor’s horse corral. Originally it was a small garden intended to provide produce to Storehouse West in Rio Rancho. In 2009 Victor and Nora Scherzinger offered some of their land to enlarge the garden to 1/10th of an acre. A handful of Sandoval County Master Gardeners helped with the garden, generating 1650 pounds of produce. It has grown a lot over the last decade.

In 2010 the Sandoval County Master Gardeners decided to sponsor the project, allowing for a larger volunteer base. Victor Scherzinger talked his neighbors, Dr. Robert Lynn and Janet Braziel, into donating land, expanding the garden to 3/5 of an acre. The 2010 gardens generated 30,701 pounds. This allowed Seed2Need to provide produce for several more pantries in the area.

EXPANSION

In 2011 the gardens were expanded via an Eagle Scout project that cleared brush and debris from 1/2 acre at the Lynn garden. Considerably more volunteers from the community started to help, as well as community service groups, church groups, boy scouts and school groups. For the last few months of the summer Seed2Need was given a booth at the Corrales Grower’s Market on Sunday mornings to collect produce donations from vendors and locals. Collectively, 45,399 pounds of produce was donated to local food pantries and soup kitchens. Based on our success in 2010 and 2011 Seed2Need was recognized by the International Master Gardeners organization, winning the Search for Excellence award in the Community Service category.

In 2012 the Scherzinger gardens were expanded, generating an extra 1/2 acre. Seed2Need continued to maintain a presence at the Corrales Grower’s Market to collect donations, receiving 3,150 pounds of produce. Additionally it was an abundant year for fruit. We were contacted by numerous property owners in Corrales, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and Rio Rancho to glean fruit from trees that were literally being torn apart by the weight of fruit. We harvested over 17,000 pounds of pears, apricots, peaches and apples.  Between the gardens, the Grower’s Market and the donations from orchards, we donated 65,238 pounds of fruit and vegetables for 15 food assistance programs in Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties.

SUMMER OF CHALLENGES

In 2013 we expanded the Lynn garden, adding approximately 1/2 acre of watermelons and cantaloupe. We decided not to participate in the Corrales Grower’s Market, because many of the growers were unable to plant crops due to the drought. Flood irrigation was cut off to the middle Rio Grande valley in early summer and many local farmers left their fields fallow. There was a late frost, which wiped out most of the fruit trees.

It was a summer of challenges. There was a soil issue in one of our gardens. Most of the plants never developed or produced due to root knot nematodes. We had watering issues and a proliferation of weeds at the other garden, particularly Amaranth (Pigweed) and Puncturevine (Goatheads). We planted zucchini and melons after the 4th of July to avoid the squash bug infestation, but they moved in on the cucumbers early in the season and loitered until the squash and melons were planted. A major hailstorm in July did damage, though, surprisingly, the garden rebounded.  It was a rough year.

With the many issues ands setbacks we anticipated harvesting considerably less in 2013 than 2012, but we were fortunate. The tomatoes were big, beautiful and abundant. The cucumbers were surprisingly productive given the squash bug infestation. When we realized that the squash bugs were likely to kill the zucchini quickly, we planted more seed between the existing plants so they would start producing as the other plants died. The watermelons were a write-off, but we did harvest cantaloupe.

In 2014 the battle with the squash bugs resumed. Due to the infestation in prior years, the number of over-wintering squash bugs increased to the point that all cucurbit crops were lost. Fortunately the tomatoes continued to flourish and there were a lot of apples so our overall production was second only to 2012, bringing our five year total with a few hundred pounds of 250,000.

Every year is a learning experience.  We will utilize the lessons to formulate an our strategy for next year.  Fortunately we have amazing volunteers who are willing to provide their input, skills, wisdom and labor to improve the project every season.  It takes a village to facilitate a project like this and the Village of Corrales is the perfect place to do it.  Between the Sandoval County Master Gardeners and countless dedicated volunteers from the community we will continue to reduce hunger in New Mexico one garden at a time.

Harvest Results 2010 – 2018

Harvest totals and year end reports reflecting productivity over the last decade.

How You Can Help

Seed2Need is a community garden by the community for the community. There are numerous ways to help. Donate time. Donate produce. Donate money.

How To Donate

We accept donations through the United Way, PayPal, or the U.S. Postal Service. We are also one of the non-profit options when you are shopping with Amazon Smile.

Please follow and like Seed2Need:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Updates on upcoming work sessions