Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Encouraging healthy choices at the food pantry

A recent story on NPR talks about how the marketing practice of "nudging" can encourage food pantry clientele to choose healthier foods.

This did not surprise me at all.  In my thirty years of working in the food bank world, I consistently found that low-income people wanted healthy food, they just had few options to acquire it.  When we put those options in front of them, they jump at the chance to eat healthier.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Today is Giving Tuesday!

After three days of shopping madness – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday –GivingTuesday is a day for giving back.
You can help GardenShare observe our twenty years of service to the North Country by making a donation today.  Just go here.
GivingTuesday, a global giving movement that has been driven by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. Since its founding in 2012, millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyber Monday

It's Cyber Monday and those of us with good internet service and disposable income are hunting for the best deals.

Let's not forget that there are those among us who have neither.

And consider giving back to your favorite nonprofit tomorrow on Giving Tuesday.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Small Business Saturday

Just a reminder that today is Small Business Saturday.  Support our local business and keep some of your holiday shopping dollars in our local economy!

And don't forget to save a few dollars for your favorite charity on Giving Tuesday, November 29.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A reminder on Black Friday

Black Friday - while you're out getting some deals, remember that there are those who can't and save a little for you favorite charity on Giving Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 29 is a day for giving back.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

 Thank you for all of your support of GardenShare this past year.

Your gifts of time, talent, and treasure helped make all this and more possible:
  • A 70% increase in SNAP use at our farmers markets means low-income people ate healthier and the funds supported our local farmers.
  • This growing season, 39 households received a subsidy to purchase a CSA share, compared to 25 last year.
  • Continued promotion of local food and farmers through the Local Food Guide (which included 51 area farmers) and participation in the County Local Foods Committee.
  • "Hunger 101," a poverty simulation workshop was rolled out to raise awareness of the problem of hunger in the area.
With the recent addition of a Volunteer Coordinator and an Americorps VISTA to our team, we are looking ahead to even bigger things next year.

Thank you for being part of this important work!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How do you feel when you are hungry?

Last Wednesday, Americorps Brianna Blackburn and I joined the pre-school story hour at the Canton Free Library.  Children's Librarian, Valerie White was reading the book, Maddi's Fridge.

After the story, we gave the children paper plates with the words, "When I am hungry, I feel..." and asked them to draw in their responses.

Here are some of their answers...






How do you feel when you are hungry?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Grants for farmers

NYS Empire State Development 2016 New Farmers Grant Fund 

The New York State New Farmers Grant Fund will help farmers improve farm profitability through one or both of the following goals: 1) expanding agricultural production, diversifying agricultural production and/or extending the agricultural season; and/or 2) advancing innovative agricultural techniques that increase sustainable practices such as organic farming, food safety, reduction of farm waste and/or water use. Grants may provide a minimum of $15,000 and a maximum of $50,000 for up to 50% of total project costs. The remaining 50% must be matched by the recipient. Eligible sources of recipient match are limited to cash, lines of credit and loans. Other grant funds may not be used as matching funds. For any award the total project cost must be at least twice the grant award request. Eligibility (all criteria below must be met): a farm operation located wholly within New York State which produces an agricultural product as defined by the Guidelines; the farm operation must have a minimum of $10,000 in farm income from sales of products grown or raised on the applicant's farm operation as reflected in either personal or business 2015 tax returns; all owners must be New York State Residents of at least 18 years of age; as of April 1, 2016, all owners must be in the first ten years of having an ownership interest in any farm operation; all owners must materially and substantially participate in the day-to-day production of an agricultural product grown or raised on the farm operation. Eligible Expenditures: Eligible costs include the purchase of new or used machinery and equipment, supplies, and/or construction or improvement of physical structures used exclusively for agricultural purposes. Deadline: January 27, 2017

Farm Credit East Grant Writing Services for Farms & Agribusiness

Farm Credit East offers grant writing services to help farms and agribusinesses grow, change or expand their enterprises. For more information and for a summary of potential federal and regional grants and other incentives available to help Northeast producers, go here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Grants for youth run gardens

Katie's Krops is accepting applications from youth between the ages of 9 and 16 for grants to start a Katie's Krops vegetable garden in their community with the purpose of donating the harvest to people in need.
Selected applicants will be awarded a gift card to a garden center in their area (of up to $500), support from Katie’s Krops, and a digital camera to document the garden and the harvest. In addition to grant materials, winners will be eligible to attend the all-expenses-paid Katie's Krops Summer Camp in Pelion, South Carolina. All grantees that complete all grant requirements are eligible for funds to continue to grow their graden year after year, thereby creating a sustainable solution to hunger in their community.
Katie's Krops grant recipients are required to start and maintain a vegetable garden for a minimum of one planting season. All types of vegetable gardens, including container gardens if the applicant lives in a city or a vegetable garden located in a neighborhood or at a school, will be considered. Grantee decides where the garden will be grown. The grant recipients also determine where they will donate their harvest, which is based on need in their community (e.g., the harvest can be used to support classmates in need, homeless shelters, food banks, or neighbors in need).
Grant recipients must donate the entire harvest from the garden to people in need in their community. This may be done through direct donations to families in need or by donating the harvest to soup kitchens or organizations that feed the needy. In addition, grantees are required to submit photos and a brief report on their progress, including the amount of produce they have grown, volunteers who have helped, donations made, and what they have learned from the experience.
See the Katie's Krops website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Reflections from a GardenShare intern

Intern Camille Duquet reflects on her experience at GardenShare:

Before my senior year in college at St Lawrence University, I had never thought of food and food issues in a critical way. It was not until I enrolled in my capstone thesis class ‘You Are What You Eat’ that I began to understand the implications of being food insecure and the many difficulties that millions of Americans in that position face every day. Food insecurity refers to the state of not having consistent or reliable access to nutritious food due to lack of resources, most predominantly caused by low-income and poverty.  Unfortunately, this state leads to hunger, malnutrition, and other weight related illness such as overweight and obesity.

It then occurred to me that St Lawrence County being one of the poorest counties in New York State, there were hundreds of people in my community suffering from food insecurity and I had never stopped once to think about it. It suddenly became a more personal issue that I wanted to learn more about and find ways to help fellow community members in need.

As I was looking through the placement options as part of my Community Based Learning class, listed was GardenShare. I had never heard about the nonprofit organization before, but I thought this would be the perfect way to volunteer in the community as well as gain knowledge on various projects being implemented to help fight hunger in the North Country.

For twenty years now, GardenShare has been responsible for providing healthy, wholesome foods from local farms to community members in need at an affordable price. GardenShare supports both the local farming economy and the health of other community members by offering the choice of obtaining fresh produce to people who may not otherwise have been able to afford it.

Throughout my time as a volunteer intern, I have been able to experience first hand at the Farmers Market the work done by GardenShare. On Tuesday mornings, along side Jennifer Whittaker, under the Farmers Market Manager's tent I am responsible for handing out the tokens redeemable in exchange for market goods from all participating Farmers Market vendors. Through donations and grants, GardenShare has made it possible for individuals on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, to not only purchase farmers market produce using their EBT card but also double the desired amount completely free of charge. This allows individuals on a SNAP budget to have access to more abundant healthy and nutritious foods while also helping the local farming economy.

Beyond the Farmers Market, GardenShare is also involved in many policy advocacy works to end hunger issues in the North Country. I have been a part of one these projects led by executive director Gloria McAdam, called Hunger 101. Through mock situations, yet using real life scenarios, participants are taught the difficulties of being on a tight food budget.

Through GardenShare I have gained a deeper understanding of the implications of food insecurity in the North Country. It has provided a learning platform to be implemented in my final thesis paper, but most importantly it has opened my eyes on the issue of hunger and provided feasible solutions in order for everybody to have access to healthy, wholesome foods.

-Camille Duquet

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

CCE Grower's Academy

Growers’ Academy: Market Readiness Training Series 
Begins November 15 in Jefferson County
Begins November 16 in St. Lawrence County
Fee:  Sessions 1-3 $25 each, Session 4 $50 or Entire Series $100

Join CCE for this great opportunity to learn how to prepare your produce and
market to larger businesses!

Session 1: Becoming an Institutional Market-Ready Producer Part 1

Session 2: Becoming an Institutional Market-Ready Producer Part

Session 3: Marketing and Developing a Business Plan

Session 4 (two-day training): Understanding GAPs and FSMA Certification

Session 5: Market Panel (Free to participants of past sessions)

Click Here for More Information

Workshop on cover crops coming up

Working Cover Crops into Vegetable Production
A discussion-based program for commercial vegetable growers

TuesdayNov 29          6:30-8:00 pm
At the CCE Learning Farm
2043B State Highway 68, Canton NY   
Wednesday, Dec 14    6:30-8:00 pm
At the AARCH Building
1745 Main St., Keeseville, NY

Cover crops are a key component to building soil health but many vegetable growers find it difficult to fit them into their crop rotations. This involves long range planning to allow enough space and strategic timing for one crop to follow another.
Growers are invited to join a discussion on timings and choices with Kitty O’Neil, Regional Agronomy Specialist with the Northern NY Ag Program and Amy Ivy, Regional Vegetable Specialist with the Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program.  Michael Davis, Manager of the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm will join the discussion in Keeseville. Growers are encouraged to bring questions and share their experiences at these discussions.
The program is free and open to the public. For more information contact Amy Ivy or (518)570-5991. Registration is not required but appreciated in case of last minute changes due to weather or other issues.
Sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension with support from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nature's Storehouse raising money for GardenShare

Starting today, Nature's Storehouse will be asking their customers to support GardenShare during this season of Thanksgiving.  Customers will be invited to make a donation to GardenShare while checking out November 13 - 23 and have the option to add their name to a wall of donors.  When you stop in for healthy food for your Thanksgiving feast, you'll be able to support GardenShare's work to help ensure healthy food for all of our neighbors.

"Many people feel that healthy food is inaccessible. We are inspired by the work that Gardenshare does to help ensure access to healthy food, and we are proud to partner with them in this fundraising effort." Rainbow Crabtree, Co-Owner of Nature's Storehouse.

"All of us at GardenShare appreciate this so much," said Gloria McAdam, executive director of GardenShare.  "Nature's Storehouse customers care about fresh, healthy food and this promotion will give them the opportunity to help everyone in our community have access to locally grown food."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Local businesses want to purchase local food

Local businesses want to purchase more local food, according a recent survey.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


The House and the Senate might soon consider child nutrition bills that would reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (which expired more than a year ago!). Both bills would maintain the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which gives free meals to students regardless of family income (i.e., universal school meals), leave intact (with some minor tweaks) the prescriptive federal school meal standards, and expand welfare and federal food assistance. Should either bill move forward, the conservative Heritage Foundation maintains, many policymakers, including conservatives, would be conceding child nutrition policy to those seeking greater federal control and a larger welfare state. In brief, the Foundation’s basic objection to the Community Eligibility Provision is that it provides free meals to children whose families can afford to pay. School meal standards, it contends, impose strict, one-size-fits-all rules that dictate the specific types and amount of food that schools can serve. And Summer EBT programs are unneeded because SNAP, WIC, and existing summer meal programs are sufficient.  

Source: Heritage Foundation, 11/3/16, Child Nutrition Bill Critique

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Americorps volunteer joins GardenShare

All of us at GardenShare are thrilled that we've been approved to add an Americorps volunteer to our team!  And very happy to welcome Brianna Blackburn who just started her year of service this week.

Hi, my name is Brianna Blackburn, I am GardenShare’s first ever AmeriCorps VISTA member serving this upcoming year in the neighborhood! I spent majority of my life growing up in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Western New York just in time for high school. I am presently finishing up my degree in Political Science with minors in Law and Business at Clarkson University this December.

Why AmeriCorps you ask? Social and environmental justice have become issues that I am extremely passionate about and AmeriCorps was a great way to start a life of advocacy and activism. I am so excited to be welcomed into the GardenShare team and am especially excited to become a member of the local community! 

One of my favorite activities to do is experiment with new recipes while jamming out to Van Morrison. I also love reading the works of Kurt Vonnegut on my free time. I am also an avid road tripper and back packer, I mostly prefer to rough it and camp out in the elements. I have been to 30 states and my goal is to travel to all 50! My favorite place I have traveled to is the Northwest region of the US, most particularly Mt. Rainier in Washington. I spent last spring on a semester exchange in Hong Kong and back packed through Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines. My most recent trip was a solo road trip from NY to Southwest Colorado to see Pearl Jam play! I have been saving up diligently to back pack through Iceland as my next adventure after my year of service!

I am very excited for what the next year has in store for me, and thank you for welcoming me into the community!


NYS Council on Hunger and Food Policy announced

ALBANY — State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced the members of the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy, which has been created to establish a permanent focus on fighting hunger in the state. Chaired by Commissioner Ball, the Council will advise the state on strategies to address hunger needs and expand the availability of fresh, locally grown foods for New Yorkers living in communities with limited access. 

See more here

All of us at GardenShare are happy to announce that our Executive Director is a member of this Council, representing the North Country's interests on these important issues!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Meet GardenShare's new Volunteer Coordinator

GardenShare welcomes a new member of our team this week.  Here's a little more about her!

Name:  Rhonda Rodriguez

Town of residence:  Massena

Role at GardenShare:  Part-time employee (Volunteer Coordinator)

How long? I just joined the organization in November 2016 and am happy to be a part of it!

Why I do what I do:  I was born and raised in the North Country and spent about 10 years away (in Boston and New York City) and then came back North in 1999, so I've had plenty of opportunity to see how poverty and hunger impact not only our area but America as a whole. Something needs to be done to get things in balance, and we can only solve the problem one person at a time. I admire GardenShare's efforts to help people in need access healthy food, fruits and vegetables, while bringing attention to local growers in the process. I am glad to do what I can do help spread that good message.

Role outside of GardenShare:  I am the proud (and often tired!) mom of a very active 9-year-old and I volunteer for community organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Massena and a local Girl Scout troop.

Hobbies:  I am a certified teacher and I tutor students in my spare time. I enjoy music - when time allows, I sing in a local choir and play flute in a local community band. I am also a hockey fan and probably spend too much time on Facebook than I should!

Most recent accomplishment:  This summer in Albany, I served on a committee established by the New York State Commissioner of Education to help revise the high school Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts

What's the hardest thing you've done or had to learn? That as much as I want to, I am not going to save the world. However, there is profound value in helping one person one day at a time.

Favorite book? My favorite author is a childhood classic - Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've read not only her books but biographies and academic works about her, and it's a goal of mine to see the museum in Mansfield, Missouri that is dedicated to her life and career.

Last read? Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey. It's a family custom to read out loud in the car whenever we're going somewhere, and we are currently working our way through Lackey's multi-volume Valdemar series.

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Brainstormer

Share something about yourself that few people know. I appeared on Jeopardy! many years ago, in one of their college tournaments. My performance was quite dismal, but it was still a lot of fun.

What are you most proud of?  My daughter and her adventurous spirit

If you could trade places with anyone for a week, who would it be?  Why?  Sometimes I wish I could trade places with my daughter, so that I could see and experience the world as she does. Viewing the world with fresh, young eyes, with no understanding of cynicism and sarcasm, would be a really powerful thing.

If you were a superhero, what would your power be?  I have always wished that I could read people's thoughts. I am not terribly adept at interpreting body language and prefer to know directly what's on someone's mind. But the books I am reading with the family right now (the Valdemar series) feature a character who has the psychic ability to read, manipulate, and project EMOTIONS. That ability (used with the appropriate ethics, of course) would be amazing, I think.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Not too much, as we're almost due for a trip to the market! Mostly deli meat and cheese, milk and juice and creamer for coffee. Assorted fruits and veggies - usually peppers, cukes, grapes, apples and peaches. We tend to plan out our meals for a week and then buy just enough at the store, rather than having a lot of extra food around.

Anne Frank once said that in spite of everything, she believed people were basically good.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?  I think that people WANT to be good, but that they fool themselves into allowing behaviors that are not good and rationalize them as good and come up with justifications to absolve themselves of guilt. The  mind is a powerful thing. And what's good for some people is not necessarily good for others.

School Food Support Initiative

Chef Ann Foundation is currently accepting applications for an 18-month technical assistance program, which can help districts improve their meal programs and transition to scratch cook operations. Their goal is to provide up to seven school districts with technical assistance, strategic planning and funding opportunities to improve their operations. Applications will be accepted through November 30, 2016 and more details about program services and eligibility criteria, as well as a link to the online application can be found on the School Food Support Initiative Webpage

Monday, November 7, 2016

Safer® Brand School Garden Grant

Safer® Brand is starting an annual school garden grant to help kids build healthy habits through gardening. The $500 grant will be awarded to a school in the United States to start a school garden in 2017. Applications are due December 1Learn more here

Friday, November 4, 2016

Watertown schools poised to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students

According to WWNY-TV, the Watertown School System has applied to take advantage of the community eligibility provision, which will allow them to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students, regardless of parent's income.

While there is sometimes pushback on these programs, the reality can be that it's cheaper to just serve everyone than to do the administrative work required to separate paid from free and collect the funds from those families who are expected to pay.

Providing meals to all also takes away any stigma attached to free meals and helps ensure that the children who really do need this assistance are getting it.

Many schools in the North Country have high poverty rates and could consider doing the same.


The average American household allocates 12.6% of its spending on food, both at home and away from home, making food the third largest expenditure category behind housing and transportation. Typically, food prices rise in the same direction as economy-wide inflation, but their magnitudes may vary. But food price inflation has outpaced economy-wide inflation in 7 of the last 9 years. In 2015, food prices increased 1.9% percent, a smaller rise than the 2.4% increase the year before. Declining prices for pork, dairy, fats and oils, and fresh fruit helped ease food price inflation this year. But economy-wide inflation measured just 0.1% in 2015, in large part due to a 7.8% drop in transportation prices as a result of lower oil prices.

Source: USDA, 10/3/13, Food Prices Rise

Thursday, November 3, 2016


In recent weeks, a cascade of research has been released on the number of Americans struggling against hunger and poverty. Here’s a brief summary.

  • The Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty shows that the national poverty rate decreased from the recession high of 15.1% in 2010 to 13.5% in 2015. Mirroring this decline, USDA national food insecurity research reveals that the national rate of individuals living in food insecure households dropped significantly from 15.4% in 2014 to 13.4% in 2015.
  • According to the Food Research and Action Council’s latest report, 1 in 5 families with children could not afford adequate food at some points in 2015. If it weren’t for federal nutrition programs, these numbers would be even worse.
  • USDA’s food security report shows single-parent families with children were significantly more likely to be food insecure when headed by a woman than by a man (30.3 to 22.4%). Economically, the poverty rate for single mothers is 28.2%, nearly nine percentage points higher than for single fathers.

Source: Food Research & Action Center, 10/20/16, Hunger Data

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New Resource Available - Reduce Wasted Food Household Tip Sheet

It’s estimated that Americans throw out about one quarter of all their food purchases.  Wasting food increases the amount of trash we create, and increases our costs for food purchases and for managing waste.  To address this issue, the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) has created a tip sheet for households with easy-to-adopt strategies for reducing and eliminating food waste at home. 

The Reduce Wasted Food Tip Sheet for Residents provides valuable information about what can be done on daily and weekly schedules to manage food that’s already in the refrigerator.  Information included provide the following tips and more: how to use your fridge to help you with optimal storing of food; how to arrange what’s in the fridge so you know what to eat first and what you need to buy; numerous food facts; links to recipes; and preserving and canning foods. The Reduce Wasted Food Tip Sheet also includes apps for making shopping lists, smart food storage, and where to find more information on reducing food waste. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Grants available to support new farmers

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1 million in funding is available to assist new and early-stage farmers through the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund. Now in its third year, the program builds upon the success of 2015 when more than $743,000 was awarded to 25 early-stage farms across the state to support the continued growth of New York’s agriculture industry. To date, nearly $1.4 million has been provided to 41 farms throughout New York State to expand their operations and improve their profitability.

The $1 million New Farmers Grant Fund will provide grants of up to $50,000 to assist with up to 50 percent of eligible project costs, with the remaining 50 percent being matched by the recipient. All owners of eligible farms must be within the first ten years of ownership and the farm must have a minimum of $10,000 in income from sales of products grown or raised on the farm. Eligible project costs include the purchase of farm machinery, supplies and equipment, and construction or improvement of farm structures. Empire State Development, in consultation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, administers the fund.

This year, the program has eliminated the 150 acres or less requirement and is now accepting farm applicants of all sizes. The application and guidelines for the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund are available online. The deadline for submission is January 27, 2017.