Garden project sets 500,000-pound donation goal

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is calling on gardeners and produce growers to help feed North Dakota's needy – many of them children – by growing extra vegetables and fruit for the 2012 Hunger Free ND Garden Project.

“One in nine North Dakotans seeks food assistance every year, and almost half of them are children,” Goehring said Thursday at a news conference in Bismarck. “It is a sad reminder that even in a state that produces so much food for the world, people are going hungry among us.”

Goehring said the goal for the garden project is a half million pounds of produce.

“In the first two years of the garden project, a total of 500,000 pounds of produce were collected and distributed across the state,” he said. “We aim to equal that total this year by raising awareness of the project and getting more gardeners and growers to donate produce in their communities.”

Goehring said Bismarck area gardeners can visit Cashman Nursery, 3400 E. Main Ave., between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Friday, to receive a free packet of seeds and a Hunger Free ND Garden sign. 

The Hunger Free ND Garden Project was started in 2010 through the local foods initiative of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) in partnership with the Great Plains Food Bank. The project encourages home gardeners and commercial growers to plant extra produce each year for donation to charitable organizations across the state.

“Charitable organizations, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, domestic violence shelters and charities, are encouraged to contact the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to sign up for the fresh produce donations,” Goehring said.

More information about the project is available by calling (701) 328-2231 or online at www.nd.gov/ndda.

Also participating in the news conference were Dan Cashman of Cashman Nursery and representatives of Aid Inc., Mandan, and the Haycreek 4-H Club.