Goehring sets 500,000-pound donation goal for Hunger Garden

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is asking North Dakota gardeners and produce growers to grow an extra half million pounds of vegetables and fruit for donation to charitable organizations, such as food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters, through the  2013 Hunger Free ND Garden Project.

“Even in a state like North Dakota which produces so much food for the world, we have people going hungry,” Goehring said. “More than 10 percent of North Dakotans – almost half of them children – seek food assistance every year.”

Goehring said Bismarck-area gardeners who want to take part in the project can go to Cashman Nursery, 3400 E Main Ave., between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Friday, May 17, to receive a Hunger Free Garden sign and a packet of seeds.

“Staff from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) will be on hand to talk about the project and explain what is being done locally and statewide to provide food for needy people,” he said.

NDDA in partnership with the Great Plains Food Bank started the Hunger Free ND Garden Project in 2010 as part of the department's local foods initiative. The project encourages home gardeners and commercial growers to plant extra produce each year for donation to charitable organizations across the state. The Great Plains Food Bank, a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

“In the first three years of the garden project, more than 770,000 pounds of produce were collected and distributed across the state,” Goehring said. “By meeting this year's goal, we will easily exceed a million pounds of fresh fruit and vegetable donations.”

Goehring also urged charitable organizations that distribute food to contact the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to sign up for the fresh produce donations.

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