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When your gardens overflow with this season’s harvest, people have more than they can use or save for later. Thankfully, there are several ways to share the harvest with others in need or with those who, for some reason, don’t have a garden of their own.

Friends, Family, and Neighbors

The easiest way to share the harvest is to give extra vegetables and flowers to your friends, family, and neighbors. Some folks simply place a basket of fruit or vegetables on a table and let people help themselves. It’s a good idea to take a few bags along as well, to make it easier for people to “shop”. An abundance of tomatoes can be shared with co-workers and neighbors. A basket of home-grown vegetables is a thoughtful and creative hostess gift, with or without the traditional bottle of wine.

Churches and Food Pantries

Many churches and civic organizations have food pantries for the needy. You can likely find one in your area. If you can’t find one, maybe you can start one, or encourage someone to start one in your area. One of the great joys of gardening is to share your harvest with others.

Sell Your Surplus

Enterprising gardeners can sell their extra vegetables at the Farmer’s Market or with a simple roadside stand that encourages anyone who wants fresh vegetables to leave a “free will donation”. Simply put up a sign to encourage folks to “take what they want, leave what they can”. A small box or empty coffee can makes a good cash register. Even if you don’t collect much money, you’ll be helping others and making the world a better, healthier place.

Waste Not—Preserve It

Most gardeners, universally dislike wasting anything. Gardeners tend to be more in touch with the environment and wasting anything that grows just goes against their nature. Thankfully, with just a little bit of effort, you don’t need to add to your local trash stream.

Even small-scale casual gardeners can easily preserve many garden vegetables for later use. While canning and drying vegetables can be time-consuming and require some special equipment, freezing extra produce is easy. Beans can be blanched and frozen in plastic bags. Tomato sauce can be frozen in plastic containers, and then transferred to plastic bags for easy, nearly air-tight storage in the freezer.

Compost It

The ultimate recycling of extra garden produce, especially fruits and vegetables that might not be good enough to give away or preserve, is to compost them. You’ll reduce the amount of waste going into the trash stream, and you’ll be preparing for next year’s garden.

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