Friday, May 29, 2015

Thank You to Annual Fundraising Dinner Sponsors

GardenShare's annual fundraising dinner is coming up on Tuesday, June 9.  This year the event will be held at Jake's on the Water in Renssalaer Falls, where Chef Josh Taillon has committed to a menu from locally grown food!  Have you made your plans to attend yet?

The ticket sales support GardenShare - of your $75 ticket, $40 pays for your meal and $35 is a tax-deductible donation.

We are especially grateful to the following sponsors who have stepped up to support this event with contributions over and above the ticket price!

Presenting Sponsor:

Partnership Sponsors:

Friend Sponsors:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Retiree takes up gardening, in a big way!

A great article about a couple who have turned their yard into a certified organic farm!

In the Post Star

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Using Gardens to Teach

Using Gardens to Teach
Summer Institute for Educators
August 18th-21th

The summer institute is designed to help educators integrate gardens into their teaching. We cover topics in literacy, social studies, science, math, and nutrition, as well as build knowledge about sustainable agriculture, food systems, social justice, and ecological gardening practices. Join us for two to four days of hands-on learning!

At this year's institute, we are providing two days of instruction in garden-based curriculum for educators of youth in the primary grades (pre-kindergarten through grade 3), and two days of training in hands-on gardening and garden-building. 

Participants may register for two or four days. You may opt for two days of curriculum, two days of gardening, or all four days of the institute. Each day runs from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

August 18th-19th      Garden-Based Curriculum and Instruction
August 20th-21st       Gardening Skills and Garden-Building

Workshop Location:
Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Vassar Farm Lane,  Poughkeepsie, NY

Workshop Fee:
Two-Day program: $120 ($60 for City of Poughkeepsie Educators)
14 Professional Development Hours
Four-Day program: $240 ($120 for City of Poughkeepsie Educators)
          28 Professional Development Hours

Register online at:

For more information:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

GardenShare annual dinner in two weeks - order your tickets this week!

It has been a year of transition at GardenShare and we hope you share our excitement about the future of our work to solve the problem of hunger in St. Lawrence County.

Join us for this fundraising dinner and support our efforts to make healthy, sustainable food choices accessible to everyone in our community.

Our friends at Jake's have prepared an amazing  menu of fresh, locally sourced spring bounty. Share a meal and conversation with others passionate about food justice in the North Country.

Tickets are $75 per person...go here to order your tickets online.

Or go here for information about sponsorship packages.
Live music with Theresa Witmer, Mike Weil, and Laurel Kuxhaus.

A silent auction of locally donated goods and services will help even more!


Special thanks to our sponsors for their generous support of this event:

Partnership Sponsors:

  • Green Hammer Construction
  • North Country Savings Bank
  • SeaComm Federal Credit Union
  • Stauffer Farms

Friend Sponsor:

  • Save-A-Lot

There's still time to sponsor!  Go here or contact us for more information!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Plants at the farmers market

At the Potsdam Farmers Market on Saturday!
Why buy plants at your local farmers market, instead of the big garden center?

You are supporting your local farmer's business and strengthening the local economy.

And, you are getting plants appropriate to this climate!  Which all of us who live here know can be a challenge!

Markets are now open in Canton, Dekalb, Potsdam, and Ogdensburg.

Check out the Local Food Guide for more information about the markets and local farmers.

Friday, May 22, 2015

SNAP Challenge

The SNAP Challenge exists in order to help people “with enough food to eat to understand what it feels like to not have a consistent source of nutritious meals,” writes FRAC President Jim Weill in this blog post. Current SNAP benefits are too low because they are based on an outdated emergency food plan. Benefits were increased 13.6 percent during the recession through the economic recovery act, and while research shows the boost resulted in improved health and well-being, the increase has since been phased out. To help protect and strengthen the SNAP Program, Weill urges people to sign a SNAP support petition, in addition to contacting their members of Congress to share SNAP facts and urging more people to speak out in support of these benefits.

Every American should have to live for a week on a food budget of just $29 – Quartz, May 7, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Stories from the lunch line - kids like healthy food

A decade ago, Whitley County schools in Kentucky began improving the nutritional quality of its school meals in response to rising obesity rate – the state is currently the seventh most obese state in the U.S. USDA’s Smart Snacks in Schools standards helped the school system further improve its meals, writes the district’s food service director, Sharon Foley, in this blog post. Talking to students about their food preferences has helped make healthier foods a success. For example, the district found that students were more likely to select fruit on the cafeteria line if it was sliced and placed in small cups. Staff and parents were also more critical of the move to whole grain versions of bread and pasta than were the students.

Lessons Learned from a Food Service Director: Kids Like Healthy Foods – USDA Blog, May 12, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Farmers Market season has arrived!

I picked up some parsnips at the Canton Farmers Market!
They were delicious!
It's the season!

Farmers markets are opening all over!

Canton, Dekalb, Ogdensburg, and Potsdam Farmers Markets have all opened in the past two weeks.

Early markets have asparagus, parsnips, plants, greens, baked goods, maple syrup, and crafts.

Find a list of locations and hours for farmers markets here.

Hope to see you at a market soon!

School's out soon, where will the kids eat?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

USDA: We need more farmers!

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture just released a report that says there are 22,500 fewer students graduating from ag programs than what are needed in the U.S. This isn't to say that someone without an ag degree can't fill one of the 57,900 high-skill food, ag, natural resources and environment jobs that come open every year, but the report looks at ag grads as being more suited for the positions.

Full article is here.

Your chance to support GardenShare - three weeks from tonight!

Go here to order tickets.

Or here to learn about sponsorship opportunities and see the menu!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hunger as a health care issue

Taking action to address food insecurity requires creativity. It challenges us to think outside the box. Health care professionals are uniquely equipped to alleviate food insecurity within their communities in ways that allow everyone to reap tremendous benefit.
Dr. Diana Cutts, pediatrician at Hennepin County Medical Center, discusses innovative solutions for addressing and alleviating food insecurity among patients and their families.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jamboree to benefit Ogdensburg Snackpack program tomorrow

Organizers of the Ogdensburg Snackpack program will host a jamboree featuring music by at least six performers and bands May 17 from 3 to 9 p.m.
The event will take place at the Ogdensburg Moose Lodge, 609 Pickering St.
Music will be provided by Pat Duffy, Allexa Hopper, SWITCH, Mad Dog & the Grizz, Jim Fitzgerald and the Starlighters and others.
Many items will be auctioned off, including a diamond studded ring and earrings donated by Carbino’s Jewelers. A “50-50” raffle is also planned.
The Snackpack program is a coalition of community volunteers serving the children attending Madill and Kennedy elementary schools by providing healthy food for children in need on the weekends.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Today is Food Revolution Day

Today is Food Revolution Day 2015! Food Revolution Day is British chef Jamie Oliver’s global day of action to put food education back on the school curriculum. By educating children about food in a fun and engaging way, we can equip them with the basic skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives.

Here are four ways you can get involved in Food Revolution Day today:
  1. Join the 1,000,000+ people in 180+ countries who have signed the petition calling for practical food education on all school curriculums,
  2. Check out the new Food Revolution Day song that just launched,
  3. Whip up delicious recipes with your kids or challenge your workmates to a cook-off, and
  4. Share your photos using the hashtag #FoodRevolutionDay.

Two years ago on Food Revolution Day, Food Day launched the Get Food Education in Every School national initiative with Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA) to raise awareness about the critical importance of food education in schools across America. We believe that food education should be available for every child, in every school in America.

By fighting for every child’s right to food education, we can help to reverse the rise in obesity levels and diet-related disease. Join us in celebration of Food Revolution Day today!

Fighting senior hunger

May is older American's month and a good time for all of us to reflect on this issue  of hunger among our senior citizens.
Last year, across the country, the Feeding America network provided 563 million meals to seniors age 60 and above through special programs including the Senior Grocery Program, Mobile Pantry Program, Senior Cafes, multi-generational meal and food programs and partner programs that focus on feeding seniors who are homebound.
According to Feeding America's recent study, Hunger in America 2014, more than half of all seniors report having to make tradeoffs, sometimes having to choose between purchasing food or paying for healthcare or prescriptions, paying for food or transportation, and paying for food or utilities.
Although Feeding America, the Food Bank of Central New York, and our local food pantries are working to ensure vulnerable seniors do not have to make these difficult choices, charity alone cannot solve senior hunger.
Go here to learn more about the issue and find resources to get started solving senior hunger.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Extensive research has found the WIC program to be a cost-effective investment that improves the nutrition and health of low-income families and leads to healthier infants, more nutritious diets, and better health care for children, and subsequently to higher academic achievement for students. Over four decades, researchers have investigated WIC's effects on key measures of child health such as birth weight, infant mortality, diet quality and nutrient intake, initiation and duration of breastfeeding, cognitive development and learning, immunization, use of health services, and childhood anemia. Their findings:

      Women who participate in WIC give birth to healthier babies who are more likely to survive infancy.
      WIC supports more nutritious diets and better infant feeding practices. WIC participants now buy and eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, following the introduction of new WIC food packages that are more closely aligned to current dietary guidance.
      Low-income children participating in WIC are just as likely to be immunized as more affluent children, and are more likely to receive preventive medical care than other low-income children.
      Children whose mothers participated in WIC while pregnant scored higher on assessments of mental development at age 2 than similar children whose mothers did not participate, and they later performed better on reading assessments while in school.

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/4/15, WIC Works

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


SNAP recipients are more likely to be obese than the general population, according to a USDA study of data from 2007 through 2010, which found Americans on food stamps were more likely to be obese than other groups, including people who didn't receive benefits even though they were poor enough to qualify. Forty percent of SNAP beneficiaries were obese during those years, the study found, compared with 32% of poor people who didn't get SNAP benefits and 30% of higher-income Americans. The finding doesn't mean SNAP makes people fat, though the possibility of correlation is something researchers have long explored.

Source: Huffington Post, 5/5/15, SNAP & Obesity 

It's important to note that this research does not say that SNAP causes obesity.  The more likely conclusion to draw is that poverty causes obesity, as people struggle to provide enough food on limited budgets and so often end up buying the cheapest food, instead of the healthiest food.

A few years ago, while giving a tour of the food bank where I previously worked, a rather haughty, clearly well-to-do woman, told me that she would never make those kind of decisions for her family.  The situation required me to be polite, but I remember thinking how lucky she was that she could never even imagine facing that kind of decision.

I can imagine it and so I worked hard while at the food bank to provide healthy food to people in need - when I left there, a full 50% of the food we distributed was fresh produce.

And I'll keep working hard at GardenShare to give low-income people, whether on SNAP or not, access to our local farmers markets and CSA's!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


About 46.5 million Americans received monthly SNAP benefits in the 2014 fiscal year, dramatically up from 28 million in 2008. In 2013, some states began to see SNAP numbers decline and by 2014, all but eight states posted declines in enrollment from the year before. National SNAP enrollment in 2014 was down by 2.3% from 2013. The average monthly SNAP benefit per person in 2014 was $125, down from $133 in 2009-13.  When adjusted for inflation, the average monthly benefit was about $110 in 2014, an increase of about $40 since 1994.

Source: Council of State Governments, 5/4/15, SNAP Participation

Monday, May 11, 2015


Today, 49 million Americans are food-insecure. Providing food for immediate relief is critical, but it is not enough. Hunger is a complex issue that food banks and charities alone cannot solve. To achieve a hunger-free America, America must find ways to address the root causes of hunger and improve long-term food security for low-income Americans. Government, business, and nonprofit organizations must promote an environment that enables people to lead stable lives that can result in self-sufficiency and opportunity. The first step to improving stability is recognizing that hunger does not exist in isolation. When people visit food pantries, they are not only struggling to put food on the table, they are also struggling to pay for housing, health, and employment. People need. Improving food insecurity means not only increasing people’s access to nutritious meals, it also means disrupting the cycle that requires them to juggle paying rent, utilities, childcare, and medical bills. To truly solve hunger, organizations from all sectors must work together to address all of these basic needs, holistically.

Source: Spotlight on Poverty, 5/5/15, Addressing Hunger Holistically

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Random thoughts

Some random things heard this week...


WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and
Children) ow serves 50% of the babies born in New York State.


1 out of 6 New York State residents struggled to
afford enough food in 2014.


1 in 5 children in New York State live in households that lack access to
enough nutritionally adequate food to live an active, healthy life.


1 in 13 seniors (60+) in New York State are at risk of hunger.


And not another statistic, but truly a thought on the issue...

The opposite of hunger is not fullness, it is health.

If we care about the health of our communities' children, our workforce, and our seniors, ensuring adequate healthy food for all is a good first step!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

SNAP makes a man's story

SNAP (formerly called food stamps) makes a difference for families!  How do I know?  Well, I know that it made a difference for this family, whose story I heard this week.

Svante Myrick is the Mayor of Ithaca.  He was elected to the City Council while still a student at Cornell and the age of 20.  Four years later, he was elected Mayor.

So, that tells you what an amazing young man he is, right?

Wait until you hear the rest of the story...

His family became homeless when they were evicted one week after he was born.  The entire first year of his life found his family both food and housing insecure.  His single mom worked two jobs and still struggled to make ends meet.

According to Mayor Myrick, it was food stamps (as it was then called), free meals at school, and when those weren't enough, the local food pantry, that kept his family afloat, that let him and his siblings grow up healthy, do well in school, and succeed as adults.  Not that it was easy - he worked three jobs to get through college, but when he was younger, those programs kept his family together and focused on the future.

As Mayor, he has made Ithaca a "living wage" city.  His focus on economic development, combined with education is actually reducing poverty.

But he puts food at the top of his list for solving the problem of poverty.  He commented about how we all hear the question, "Well, are you giving them a fish, or teaching them to fish?"  He responds to that question with a question or two of his own..."Have you ever tried to teach a hungry man to fish?  Have you ever tried to teach a hungry man anything?"

Indeed, Mr. Mayor.  Hungry children don't learn so well either!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Food Revolution Day is in one week

Food Revolution Day is coming up on May 15! Food Revolution Day is British chef Jamie Oliver’s global day of action to put food education back on the school curriculum. By educating children about food in a fun and engaging way, we can equip them with the basic skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives.

Two years ago on Food Revolution Day, Food Day launched the Get Food Education in Every School national initiative with Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA) to raise awareness about the critical importance of food education in schools across America. We believe that food education should be available for every child, in every school in America.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in Food Revolution Day on May 15, from whipping up delicious recipes with your kids to challenging your workmates to a cook-off to sharing your photos using the hashtag #FoodRevolutionDay on social media. And please join the hundreds of thousands of people that have signed the petition calling for practical food education on all school curriculums.
By fighting for every child’s right to food education, we can help to reverse the rise in obesity levels and diet-related disease. Join the celebration of Food Revolution Day on May 15.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Doctors in Arkansas are examining how they can address the food insecurity that affects their patients’ health.  A recent report showed them that compared with children from food-secure families, those from food-insecure families were more likely to: have been hospitalized, have developmental delays, and be in fair or poor health. Their families were more likely to: experience fair or poor maternal health and housing and energy insecurity; forego needed health care due to cost; and be forced to decide between paying for health care or for other basic living expenses such as food, rent, or housing.  The report suggests options that health care providers can pursue to address this problem, including: (1) sharing listings of food assistance programs and local resources; (2) establishing a food pantry or farmer’s market at the health facility, or partnering with an established one, to better connect patients with healthy foods; and (3) training in-house financial counselors to serve as SNAP/WIC application liaisons.

Source: Children’s Health Watch, 4/24/15, Food Insecurity and Health Care

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Visiting farmer lecture at Clarkson

Clarkson University's Shipley Center for Innovation will host the first event of its new Visiting Farmer lecture series on Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the Petersen Board Room on the third floor of Bertrand H. Snell Hall (#20 on the map. All area farmers and the public are invited to attend.

Brian and Ann Bennett of Bittersweet Farms will present on farming in the North Country and ways to connect college students with farms to educate and benefit both. 

"We hope that this event jumpstarts communication and connections across disciplines in business, engineering, and our administration to drive interactions and create value that stays in our region," says Shipley Center Executive Director Matt Draper. "This series fits seamlessly into the Regional Economic Development Council’s focus on agribusiness as part of the $500 million statewide competition for 2015, but our bigger aim is to connect students, faculty, and stakeholders with farmers to keep wealth in the North Country." 

Clarkson through the Shipley Center for Innovation has developed a focus on regional farming through its work with Agbotic (a regional startup focused on advanced agricultural production equipment), Blue Sphere Industries (a startup founded by Clarkson students focused on closed environment high-rise farming), and this year’s sophomore honors class project, which focused on technology in regional farming. 

The impetus for the first lecture is the sophomore honors project on farmer outreach and the student’s desire to maintain the momentum of the project, which investigated ideas to make Clarkson University students a part of the area's farming community."

"We envision opportunities to connect not just technology but our business environmental/sustainability, and purchasing areas with local farmers in a number of areas," says Draper. "These include value-chain analysis, supply chain analysis, energy efficiency, sustainable farming, policy, food-to-table, marketing/branding and distribution.

"The May 13 session will identify additional areas of opportunity and will focus on how we can both formally and informally connect students and classroom experiences with regional farmers."

For more information, contact the Shipley Center for Innovation at 315-268-7610 or .


The odds of depressive symptoms increase as the severity of food insecurity increases, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition that examined depression, food security, and SNAP participation status among 3,518 people with incomes at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. Those who were very low food secure had 3 times greater odds of depression than those who were food secure. Though SNAP participants had a higher prevalence of depression, the odds of depression were lower for food-insecure SNAP participants than for food-insecure non-participants, which suggests SNAP may have a protective effect on mental health.

An article in the same issue of the Journal revealed that food insecurity is associated with poor sleep outcomes in adults. Very low food security was associated with sleeping half an hour less among women. The study authors found both men and women in households with very low food security were twice as likely to report sleep complaints to a health care professional, compared to food secure households.

Source: Food Research Action Center, 4/29/15, Food Insecurity & Mental Health

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Food Bank helps local programs with a "garden in a bucket"

Yesterday, I posted about the Food Bank of Central New York's work to encourage gardening at local food pantries and community kitchens.  I was also intrigued to learn about this program for those programs that might not have room for a garden...

Garden in a Bucket is open to all Food Bank Partner Agency food pantries and soup kitchens interested in container gardening through our regular menu ordering system.

Here’s how it works:
  • Each agency that is interested in receiving the Garden in a Bucket program will order a Garden in a Bucket Kit through the regular ordering system at any time during the year!
  • Each Garden in a Bucket kit will contain 20 drilled buckets, 20 seed packets or seedlings, and instruction handouts.
  • The gardening kits will be delivered to agencies with regular deliveries.
  • The agency will be responsible for finding a soil donation or purchasing 6-8 bags of topsoil. If a topsoil purchase is necessary, the cost will be reimbursed at a maximum of $20.00 by the Food Bank once per year. 
  • The bucket gardens will be planted at the local agency. The agency can plant the buckets on their own, recruit a local volunteer group or request assistance with finding a volunteer group from the Food Bank.
  • Each food pantry and soup kitchen will be eligible for two kits per order.
  • Garden in a Bucket can be done across the growing season and a variety of fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers.
See the planting suggestions below for suggestions of what to plant May through August.

  • After last frost in May: bean seeds, beet seeds, broccoli seedlings, carrot seeds, lettuce seedlings, kale seeds, radish seeds, spinach seeds
  • June: eggplant seedlings, herb seedlings, tomato seedlings, pepper seedlings, onion seedlings
  • End of July: kale seeds, lettuce seeds, radish seeds, spinach seeds
  • Middle of August: beet seeds, broccoli seedlings, carrot seeds, lettuce seedlings, turnip seeds 


Elementary schools have improved school lunches consistently since 2006, and the trend has continued throughout implementation of USDA’s new national standards for school meals, updated to align with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A new study shows more schools are offering healthier items, and fewer schools are offering unhealthier items.  Schools have increased or maintained the amount and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables they offer. Other studies have shown that the new standards have resulted in students selecting and eating more fruit, and throwing away less food than before the changes.

Source: Bridging the Gap, 4/15, School Lunch

Monday, May 4, 2015


It was good to learn today about how the food bank that serves our area promotes growing fresh food for distribution to people in need...

The Food Bank of Central New York has Garden Grant awards available of $250 each. Grants will be awarded to local food pantries or community kitchens that are already food bank partners and that do not currently have a “growing food” garden, or would like to expand  their current garden.

Awards will be allocated to partner agencies on a first come first served basis. It is a rolling application process which means there is no deadline to apply. Agencies will have to meet the criteria outlined in the application and provide all the information to receive the award. 
The application can be accessed on the Food Bank website under Get Help/Community Services/Garden Grant. Applications being accepted all year allows for spring, summer or fall garden installations, meaning your edible garden can be planted and grown all throughout the year.


Nearly 10 million seniors faced the threat of hunger in 2013, that’s 15.5% of Americans age 60 and over. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger has increased by 56%. Seniors living in the South and Southwest, those who are racial or ethnic minorities, those with lower incomes, and those who are younger (ages 60-69) are most likely to be threatened by hunger. Most of those seniors who face the threat of hunger are white and have incomes above the poverty line.

Source: National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, 4/23/15, Senior Hunger

Friday, May 1, 2015


SNAP is the nation’s first line of defense against food insecurity and undernutrition. A number of studies released within the past year demonstrate the program’s effectiveness in improving food security and health among participants. One such study found that participating in SNAP for six months reduced the percentage of SNAP households that were food-insecure by up to 17%. In addition, USDA has released a number of reports which reinforce earlier evidence that SNAP reaches those most in need of food assistance in our country, including children, the elderly, people with disabilities, those who are very poor, and working adults struggling to make ends meet. A new issue brief describes these recent findings on participant characteristics, and the associations between SNAP and food security and health.

Source: Food Research Action Center, 4/29/15, SNAP Works