A couple week's ago I started my volunteer practicum for the OGCP that I took this fall. I'm planning to volunteer with several different food/gardening organizations in town this year so I can learn as much as possible for the book while helping out. A couple weeks ago I volunteered at Oregon Food Bank's Eastside Learning Garden.
Dig In! is an ongoing early spring through late fall program at Oregon Food Bank's two Portland learning gardens for which volunteers of all ages help weed, prune, sow and harvest food for various local relief agencies. If you've ever been to the Northeast Portland DEQ you were just a stone's throw from Oregon Food Bank headquarters and its next door 17,000-square-foot Eastside Learning Garden.
For my morning shift -- on a Thursday 9am to noon -- we met up in the barn, introduced ourselves (nine or ten of us), discussed what needed to be done and then did just that. I started off by pruning a young but sprawling grape vine with a seasoned OFB volunteer and then for the remainder of my shift harvested several rows of big and healthy collard greens planted late last summer in between the chicken coop and the berry brambles. We composted the critter munched and slug slimed lower leaves and left plenty on the stalks for a staggered harvest.
There were mothers and daughters planting peas, others pruning raspberries, and folks removing over-wintered cold frames from raised beds until everyone came together a bit before noon to rinse and box the morning collard and beet harvest. When all was said and done several buckets full of fresh collards and beets were hand-carted just a few steps away to Oregon Food Bank headquarters where they'd soon be repacked and distributed to various local relief agencies.
Although I won't be back for awhile now due to a significantly sliced and bandaged right ring finger (apparently my kitchen mandoline doesn't differentiate between radishes, apples, carrots and fingers) once I'm shovel-in-the-soil ready again I'll be back to lend a hand. There's a lot to be done in the OFB gardens this spring and it's not a huge time commitment.
Another way that local green thumbs can help out with OFB is the Plant a Row for the hungry program. I'm thinking about doing that too...