Friday, March 20, 2009

From Gleanings to Food Pantries: Plant a Row to Feed the Hungry in Central Ohio

Verse 22 of Chapter 23 of the Book of Leviticus in the Bible provides: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger . . . .”

I’m pretty sure that few people now leave gleanings in their gardens for the poor or strangers and I’m equally sure that the law now frowns on strangers and others trespassing through our gardens and fields to scavenge for food. However, today we have food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens to distribute our “gleanings” and other produce from our gardens and fields. As I described in Plant a Garden; Save the World – At Least It’s a Start, we can plant a row or more in our gardens and donate that produce to pantries, shelters and kitchens to feed our less fortunate neighbors and free up non-profit resources for other compelling needs. In Central Ohio, there are a number of agencies which accept garden produce on behalf of their clients and will put it to good use for you. Whether or not you garden with us on Stoddart Avenue, here are details about how you can participate:

Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry. Go to the front door of 1460 South Champion Avenue to drop off the produce. (There’s also a dock at the side if you have a lot). They have refrigerators available to store any excess.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 (They told me 4:30 p.m. in March, but I learned in September that they lock the doors and stop answering it at 3 because I stopped by at 3:20 p.m. and no one would take my tomatoes). I also do not recommend stopping by during the lunch hour because the paid staff may be gone and you will be told to wait until they return or to come back later for a receipt.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Preferably sorted, but is not required. Is a good idea to weigh the produce beforehand if you want a receipt.
Provides tax receipts. Please have it weighed and have the donor’s name and address available in writing. It's quicker if you bring two copies so that they can keep one and you can take one. However, they have a copier there. They also like you to sign their donation book.
For more information: Call Manager Dave Drom or Assistant Manager Wayne at 443-5130.

Faith Mission. Donations can be made at two locations.
1) 599 East 8th Avenue near the fairgrounds. Go to the front door.
2) The Shelter at Long and Sixth Streets downtown. Turn left at the Lafayette Alley and knock on the first door on the left.
Hours: Monday – Sunday 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
Will take anything except pumpkins.
Sorting: Preferably sorted, but need not be bagged. Is a good idea to weigh the produce beforehand if you want a receipt.
Provides tax receipts. Please have it weighed and have the donor’s name and address available in writing. They have their own forms that they will want to fill out while you wait. They were out of the receipt forms when I stopped by in September.
For more information: Ask for Mr. Taylor or any cook in the kitchen. Phone: 224-6617.

Community Kitchen. This is the first soup kitchen in Columbus. Donations can be made at the rear of the building at 640 South Ohio Street.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Will take anything except eggplant, unusual herbs, peas, chard, and turnips. They prefer bulk amounts so that they can make a whole dish out of it. Smith Farms regularly donates food here.
Sorting: Preferably sorted, but need not be bagged .
Provides tax receipts.
For more information: Ask for Marilyn Oberting at 252 6428. Check out their website at They served almost 105,000 meals in 2008 and are ahead of that pace so far in 2009.

Holy Name Soup Kitchen. Donations can be made at 57 South Grubb Street (off West Broad Street). Go to the front door. There is a blue cart by the door.
Hours: Monday – Friday 6:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. You may need to pound on the door after 12:30 because that’s when the doors are locked.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Not necessary.
Provides tax receipts. Can be provided if you wait or it will be mailed to you (if you provide names and addresses).
For more information: Phone: 224-6617. Rumor has it that Holy Name is currently serving 1400 lunches each day.

Mid-Ohio Food Bank. Donations can be made at 1625 West Mound Street until they move into their new location this Fall.
[Editor's Note:] MOFB is now located at 3960 Brookham Drive in Grove City. Take I-71 South to the Stringtown Road/Exit 100 and turn right. Take the very first right onto Marlanne Drive. You will pass Brookham Drive to the left and then turn left past the large Agency sign. Pull up to the four garage doors and go into the regular/entry door to the left of those doors to tell them that you have a produce donation. They will help you unload your car, weigh your produce and give you a receipt.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Not necessary, but they prefer that the food be delivered in banana boxes (which you can get from your friendly local grocer) or empty copy paper boxes.
Provides tax receipts. MOFB will weigh your donation on the spot and give you a receipt.
For more information: Call Lori Coleman at 274-7770. When MOFB moves into their new, much larger warehouse this fall, they will have a clean room for processing produce, etc. They will also have 14 acres upon which they are considering an urban farm with greenhouses and everything. They will need lots of volunteers if they ultimately pursue that project.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. This is a food pantry at 441 Industry Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43204. This is a little tricky because there is no street sign. It is located in the Valley View Commerce Park of office buildings. It is a one-story, long white building across the street from the ODFJS West Opportunity Center.
Hours: Wednesday– Thursday 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Preferably sorted and bagged separately.
Provides tax receipts. You’ll have to fill out the receipt yourself, so it would be a good idea to weigh your produce before dropping it off.
For more information or to schedule a drop-off: Call Lucy Cormier at 340-7061. The population served by the Center is mostly Latino and Hispanic.

LifeCare Alliance a/k/a Meals on Wheels a/k/a Groceries To Go a/k/a Cancer Clinic a/k/a Project Open Hand. Life Care Alliance has recently consolidated the food pantry operations of the Cancer Clinic and Project Open Hand. It also runs Congregational Dining Centers and Carrie’s CafĂ© for ambulatory senior citizens (who do not yet need meals on wheels). Donations can be made 670 Harmon Avenue. Use the pantry entrance between the two handicapped parking spaces. It’s best to call ahead.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday – Friday 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Not necessary, but helpful and they prefer that it be washed
Provides tax receipts. Will mail receipts. At drop off, donations should be identified by donor's name and address, product being donated and weight of each product.
For more information: Contact Shelly Wojtylko, the Groceries To Go Coordinator for LifeCare Alliance. She works at 670 Harmon Avenue, Columbus, OH 43223 and can be reached at or 614-298-8334.

South Side Settlement House. 310 Innis Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43207
Hours: Monday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Will take anything, except lettuce, pumpkins, chard and radishes
Sorting: Preferably sorted, bagged and washed, but is not required.
Provides tax receipts. Please have donors names available and receipts will be provided upon request on the spot.
For more information: Call Dorothy McKay at 444-9868.

NNEMAP Food Pantry. 1064 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio. (In the Short North. In an abandonned Church at the corner of High and Third. It is in the basement of the same building of Directions for Youth. When coming from the parking lot, you will take the door to the basement which does not have a number or butterfly on it. There is a white bell which you can ring for assistance).
Hours: Monthly 1st-20th: M-W-F 8:45 a.m. - noon. Monthly 20th-31st: M-F 8:45 a.m. - noon.
Will Take: anything.
Sorted: Not necessary
Provides tax receipts: Upon request. Please have value ready to be inserted.
For more information: Call Yvonne at 297-0533.

This list is not exhaustive and will be updated as additional information is provided. Feel free to let me know if you have information about other organizations which take garden produce and I will add them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Water Update

One of the biggest challenges facing every community garden is how to obtain a reliable and affordable water supply. Some gardens supply chlorinated city water, but that is pretty expensive and it is hard to allocate the costs fairly among the gardeners. Rain is rarely sufficient during the late summer months. The Stoddart Avenue Garden has been blessed with four rain barrels, each of which holds 55 gallons of water. It could be difficult to fill these barrels based on normal rain fall.

We have good news. The offices of Build The Bridge of Ohio, Org (BTBO) are located two lots west of the Garden (off East Main Street). BTBO has two downspouts from its roof on the east side of its office building and has graciously agreed to let us connect our rain barrels to these east-side downspouts. It is estimated that approximately 18,000 gallons of rain runs off each roof in Central Ohio each year. Unless that rain is diverted to a rain garden or barrel, it runs into storm sewers and empties – in this area – into Alum Creek, taking with it any pollution and debris it passes along the way. By capturing the rain water before it runs into Cherry Street and then into area storm sewers, we will be filtering the rain and improving the quality of the water in Alum Creek as well as going a long way to satisfying the needs of our thirsty vegetable gardens.

We need to be sure not to wear out our welcome with BTBO by disrupting its operations or its clients. BTBO serves clients in its offices between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Accordingly, gardeners should not retrieve any water from the barrels during BTBO’s business hours. Gardeners can retrieve water to supply their garden plots after 4:45 p.m. on weekdays and at any time on weekends. This should provide sufficient flexibility for our gardeners. It is still possible that we will run out of water if we have a dry summer and, in that event, gardeners will need to bring water from home.

BTBO is a faith-based, prison re-entry, non-profit organization which provides housing, employment and life skills services to ex-offenders being released from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) and placed on parole or post-release control (PRC). BTBO’s services assist ex-offenders to find housing, improve life and conflict resolution skills, obtain employment and establish credit so that they can transition from prison into productive and taxpaying members of society and not return to homelessness or their criminal past. BTBO also provides its clients with clothing, food baskets, referrals for food stamps, Bible classes, mentors, and referrals to other social services and agencies (like health care, mental health counseling, literacy assistance, etc.). None of BTBO’s housing services are offered near the Garden, but BTBO provides employment training, job referral services and life skills training at its Main Street office. All BTBO clients are required to remain drug-free as a condition of its program.

Monday, March 16, 2009

City Land Re-Development Program Helped Create Stoddart Avenue Community Garden

Oh joy. The crocus flowers in my backyard are in bloom and I saw baby turtles sunning on logs in Alum Creek while I was biking. Spring is coming soon! I even planted garlic bulbs on Sunday (and have some left for Stoddart gardeners if you contact me).

We came to be gardening on Stoddart Avenue because of the City of Columbus’ program to lease vacant lots for $1.00 for community garden and beautification projects. Lots available for lease are listed on the website of the City’s Land Redevelopment Department at Lessees cannot make any permanent improvements to the property and cannot make any alterations or improvements to the premises without the City’s written consent (including creating raised beds with railroad ties or any other wood treated with petroleum products). Interested folks who want to create their own community garden should call Dan Headapohl at 645-6430 about how to get started (after you pick a lot from the website). Dan might even have suggestions for you about good locations.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

ISO Pick-Up Truck With or Without Driver

Betty -- our guardian angel -- has pursued a lead on Craig's List for one ton of free composted horse manure in Johnstown, but neither of us owns a pick-up truck to retrieve this needed nutrient for the Garden. If you own a truck that you could lend us to pick up this compost by the end of March, the Garden Manager would like to speak with you. If you would like to also drive us to Johnstown to help us pick it up and then unload it at the Garden -- EVEN BETTER. Of course, we'll wash the truck when we're done. If you can help us out, please contact the Garden Manager at

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ISO Volunteers to Plan Harvest Block Party

Is it too early to begin planning a harvest party (seeing as how we have not yet broken ground yet)? I don’t think so and want to hear from volunteers interested in planning a harvest block party for sometime in August or September. Maybe I’m showing my sorority roots (or my Covey-ish desire to begin with the end in mind), but there are a lot of details involved in planning a block party (like permits, petitions, games, activities, menus, etc.). Just email or call me if you’re interested in helping out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grow Your Own Ratatouille In This Year’s Vegetable Garden

Last year, I made ratatouille for the first time. You can guess that I was inspired by Disney’s Ratatouille- making rat. Not only was I surprised how good it was, but it was the first time that my young nieces and nephew begged to eat a purely vegetarian meal. They were shocked that I could make something supposedly so complicated that they really wanted to try it. Best of all, this is a meal that will keep months in the freezer and taste as good when it is reheated as it did on the day I first made it. I combined three different recipes to make my version (which I will post on this site during the harvest season), but if you want to grow your own ratatouille for your family (and freezer), you should plan on growing the following (all of which Stoddart Gardeners will be able to obtain from me – in seedling or seed form -- upon request at no charge): onions, garlic, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, parsley, basil and oregano.

Sorry, I don’t think that we’ll be able to grow and make our own olive oil, salt or black pepper this year – so you’ll have to buy those ingredients on your own.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Free Class at Dill's on Starting a Vegetable Garden on April 4

FYI. While I was cruising the internet and contemplating planting some spinach, lettuce, onions and garlic this weekend in my tiny backyard garden, I discovered that Dill's Greenhouse in Canal Winchester (or Groveport) is offering a free class on starting a vegetable garden on April 4, 2009 from 9-10 a.m. Dill’s Greenhouse is located down Route 33 at 5800 Rager Rd. Groveport, Ohio 43125. (I say Canal Winchester because the next exit is Canal Winchester). Their telephone is 614-836-3700. You can get more details from their website at

Of course, once you're finished with the class, you will rush (no faster than the speed limit) back to the Garden to help us tidy up before the tilling begins:)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Contemplation of Seeds and Water

Oh Joy! Today the mailman brought me two parcels which contained seeds for this year's garden. I also have lots of seeds leftover from last year. I don't think that I could use all of these seeds even if I planted the entire Garden plot all by myself, so I hope that other people will want to take many of these seeds off my hands (like zucchini, pimento peppers, silver queen sweet corn and green beans). No charge (but feel free to share with me any extra seeds that you have). I also received a lot of tomato seeds in the mail last week. Gardener Alysha is doing her level best to keep me from starting my indoor seeds too early. She doesn't plan to start hers until April 1, but I'll probably start mine a week or so before that. I am also trying to resist the temptation to buy a portable greenhouse from Lowes.

A number of people have expressed concern about gardening with us when they might have to bring their own water from home. As I mention at the bottom of this website, I pretty much did this last year and it was not as inconvenient as it sounds. In any event, we have received a small grant, so we will be able to have FOUR rain barrels on the Garden site. If we get even luckier, one of the neighbors might let us hook the barrels up to their downspout and fill up with the roof rain water which would otherwise drain into a storm sewer. I also have yet another rain barrel for my own plot (which I will fill throughout the Spring and Summer with rain water that I will collect from the three rain barrels already connected to my own house and garage downspouts), so these barrels should go a long way to satisfying our water needs and cut down on any need to bring water from home. However, once the barrels are emptied, you'll have to bring water from home until it rains enough again to fill them back up:)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

ISO Garden Plot Sharing Family

We have a Christ Church family who would like to garden with us this summer, but will be gone for a few weeks on vacation and visiting family. As a result, they would like to share a plot (and the planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting duties) with another family. If this sounds like a plan to you, contact the Garden Manager to put you in touch.