Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New AmeriCorps joins the team

Name:  Maggie Smith

Hometown: Long Lake, NY in the central Adirondacks

Role at GardenShare: AmeriCorps VISTA member

How long? August 2017 – August 2018

Why I do what I do at GardenShare: I grew up between the Adirondacks and the North Country. I will always call the Adirondacks home, but I think the North Country might be my future home. I started to appreciate local farmers in high school while attending the annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, where regional food systems and organic-style growing was framed as more sustainable in the face of the global climate crisis. In college (and during a summer spent apprenticing at littleGrasse Foodworks in Canton), I learned to see food and farming from other perspectives – including culture, socioeconomics, and practicality. St. Lawrence County has such a rich farming history, and the potential is there for that small-scale agriculture industry to revitalize. The North Country community has got to come together to focus on getting the good food of local growers into the mouths of the people who live here – both those who can easily afford it and those who can’t. In the short term, I believe we must address hunger. In the long term, I believe GardenShare’s many initiatives are addressing poverty itself.

Role outside of GardenShare: I’m a daughter, sister, partner, and friend! I also worked as a Summer Naturalist at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake this summer, work as a part-time farm or garden hand, and help out in my dad’s boatbuilding shop.

Hobbies: Exploring in the woods, travelling whenever I get the chance, climbing trees, gardening, doing arts and crafts, sailing trailer-sailboats with my dad, paddling canoes, knitting, biking, hiking, going to museums, and cooking or preserving food – especially fermentation!

Most recent accomplishment: Graduating from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Geosciences.

Favorite book? That’s a tough one. But Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck, is definitely one of my favorites. It’s short and memorable.

Last read? I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series, and am halfway through The Prisoner of Azkaban.

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Adventurous.

What are you most proud of? The wonderful friends I’ve made over the years, the love and support I’ve been able to offer them, and learning how to ask them for the same support when I need it.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Veggies, cheese, my mom’s cranberry-apple chutney, eggs, and venison (thanks to my brother). And everything must be labeled!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Eating Animals

On Sunday, I was privileged to be part to a panel presentation at the Clarkson University Convocation.

All incoming freshmen at Clarkson has red the book, Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer.
The book makes a strong case for a vegan lifestyle, although I did not feel it was too "preachy" on the subject.  It did provide examples of both animal farmers and slaughter operations that maintain high standards of animal husbandry and humane treatment and encouraged those of us who will eat meat to consider those options.

The panel responding to the book did not, interestingly enough, include any vegetarians or vegans.  We were all omnivores, a couple of whom might describe ourselves as "selective omnivores."

Fair warning if you do intend to read the book, the descriptions of conditions at many large factory farms and slaughterhouses are quite graphic and stomach-turning.  And, I am sure that the things described really do happen at large factory farms and large slaughter houses.  Which is why I count myself among those selective omnivores who wants to know where her meat is coming from.

Although I was not raised in any of these traditions, I feel a deep connection to the Jewish, Muslim, and Native American traditions as it relates to animals and meat.  I believe that when we do take an animals life for food, we need to treat it with reverence and as the gift that it is.  Offering a prayer of thanks to the spirit of the animal that is providing food for us has always seemed appropriate, indeed important, to me.

Sadly, our modern food system does not allow for that for most of us.

Which is just one of the reasons I want to see a vibrant, sustainable, local food system here in the North Country.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Show some team spirit and support GardenShare

Teams are signing up for the Fight Hunger 5K!

What's a team?  It could be any group of friends, family, or co-workers who want to walk or run together in the the 5K.

So far, there are four teams signed up, with some great team names:

  • Every Revolution Begins with a Spark (they are currently in the lead for fundraising!)
  • CPHealthy (representing Canton-Potsdam Hospital, and they currently have the largest team)
  • Team Tamera
  • GardenShare friends team

While we'd love to have you take part in the 5K in any way that works for you - solo, with your family, or on a team - we hope you'll think about organizing a team to spread the word and engage more people in this important work.

And, don't forget, there is a prize for the top fundraising team!

Sign up here and the system will walk you through joining an existing team, starting a new team, or just registering as an individual.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Celebrating GardenShare's Sustainers Circle

Last evening, we gathered for a reception at The Grange at 1844 House to celebrate the members of GardenShare's "Sustainers Circle."

Sustainers, as we call them, are individuals, families, or organizations who have made a three-year or longer pledge to GardenShare.  These multi-year pledges are so important to GardenShare's stability and ability to keep doing our work year after year.

While not everyone could join us last evening, twenty-eight people were there to enjoy some good food and fellowship with like-minded people, along with some brief updates from GardenShare's President and Executive Director.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you to all the dedicated folks who have already signed up to be part of the Sustainers Circle.  Will you consider joining us?  A pledge of any amount for three or more years is all it takes to be part of this special group.

Special thanks to the 1844 House for hosting us last night.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

GardenShare team helps out at Campus Kitchens

Yesterday afternoon and evening, volunteers from GardenShare helped out at Campus Kitchens.  This SLU student run project provides a free meal to area residents every Monday evening at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Canton.

While student run, Campus Kitchens is committed to being there every Monday, so that people who might need that assistance can count on it.  That means that, when the students are on break, community volunteers are needed to fill in the gap.

Thanks to Brianna and Carol who helped cook the meal - a chicken and broccoli casserole - and to Mark and Carlene who set up the tables and chairs at the church.  And thanks to Pat, who joined me at the church to serve the food and clean up afterwards.  All of these jobs would usually have more volunteers involved, so the team that came out worked hard!

It was hot and we were tired, but thirty or so people went home after a healthy and hearty meal, so it was worth all of that hard work!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

One month to go to the Fight Hunger 5K

The third annual Fight Hunger 5K will be on Sunday, September 17, one month from today!  It's not too early to sign up and start fundraising!  You can find all of the details here.

The Fight Hunger 5K is a fundraising walk / run to support GardenShare's work to end hunger.  You can join us on your own or form a team from work, school, or your place of worship.  Then asks friends, family, and co-workers to consider sponsoring you as you take on the 5K.

You can raise money through a secure online site or the old fashioned way, with a paper pledge form, or both!  Whatever you choose, we hope you'll be there with us on September 17!

Friday, August 11, 2017


Families who rely on government food programs to keep their fridges stocked don’t have the financial resources to feed themselves when those programs disappear, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed what happened in the summer months when low-income children don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch programs. The study found that when families didn’t have access to school meal programs, they changed their household spending and spent more money on food at home. But the spending increase was minimal — less than $2 per week per child, the researchers found. That’s not nearly enough to cover the lost value of the school breakfast and lunch programs, which amount to $25 a week. And it falls well short of the more than $32 a week that the USDA says a school-age child needs for a nutritious diet.

Source: Market Watch, 8/1/17, Summer Food Lacking

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Librarians used to forbid any food or drink to avoid staining books and attracting pests; they scolded people who tried to sneak snacks in the stacks. But, now, they are the ones putting food on the table. This summer, hundreds of libraries are serving federally funded summer meals to children to ensure that they don’t go hungry. The change is part of an effort to stay relevant to patrons and to pair nutrition and educational activities so low-income children get summertime learning, too. Librarians and anti-hunger advocates in California, Ohio, Virginia and New York all reported sizable increases in participation after a concerted recruitment effort spread from state to state through webinars, librarian conferences and word of mouth. In 2014, the USDA started recommending libraries as potential partners, and has an online tool to connect them to sponsors. In 2016, public libraries in California provided over 203,000 meals for children at 139 sites, up from just 17 in 2013. Last year, Ohio had 133 library branches serving USDA-funded food, up from 88 in 2014.  New York has more than 115 libraries participating this summer, compared to 36 in 2013.

Source: New York Times, 7/30/17, Summer Meals at Libraries

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Fresh Truck is a mobile supermarket that delivers nutritious foods to people who lack access. The shelves of the old bus are stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables and devoid of salt- and sugar-laden processed foods; shoppers can use cash, debit/credit, and EBT state welfare benefit payment cards. Fresh Truck and a second school bus-based market makes 11 stops throughout Boston each week, mostly in low-income neighborhoods and food deserts where residents lack access to fresh foods. In 2015, Fresh Truck added FreshRx to its delivery system. FreshRx accepts “prescription” gift cards from local partners in exchange for produce. Through the program, healthcare partners identify a group of patients who receive a FreshRx card for $10 per week in groceries. Health centers and social service agencies across Boston—including Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan, and Boston Centers for Youth and Families—underwrite the program.

Source: Civil Eats, 7/27/17, Mobile Food Prescriptions


Nearly two-thirds of low-income parents in the U.S. (64%) say a single unplanned expense would make it difficult to feed their families, a new survey reveals. Nearly all of the families surveyed who rely on food programs (92%) are working families – at least one adult in the house works full-time, part-time or multiple jobs. 59% of parents admit that, in the last year, the food they bought didn’t last and they didn’t have money to buy more. A majority of children from low-income families (59%) say they have come to school hungry, and 46% of them say hunger hurts their performance in school. Teachers often end up buying food for students who are not getting enough to eat at home--59%
of teachers regularly do this, spending nearly $300 a year out of their own pockets to fill the gap.

Source: No Hungry Kid, 8/2/17, On the Brink

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


A recent study of SNAP participants who use the FreshEBT app shows that the average household spends more than 80% of its SNAP benefits within the first nine days. Within the first 21 days, the average SNAP recipient has nothing left. Researchers suggest several reasons why SNAP benefits do not last through the month--(1) the benefit amount is too low to cover a household’s food costs and (2) the way SNAP benefits are disbursed only makes things worse. To test the latter proposition, they provided half of all new FreshEBT users a recommended weekly budget to remind them to spread consumption over the month and give them an appropriate weekly spending target. The remaining half got only a monthly balance. Over three months, researchers found that the weekly budget extended users’ monthly SNAP balance by roughly two more days. Families in the control group spent 80% of their monthly balance after nine days, while families who received a weekly budget took 11 days to spend 80% of their balance. Those two extra days means a family  could use SNAP to buy about six extra meals a month, just from a changing how a person’s SNAP balance is displayed.

Source: Scientific American, 7/21/17, SNAP Spending Patterns

Monday, August 7, 2017


SNAP participants can get a free app that allows them to check the balance on their SNAP EBT card; locate grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers markets near them that participate in SNAP; and keep track of their SNAP spending history. People can even sign up for SNAP directly from the app. Retailers can use the app to highlight weekly deals and promotions, create custom loyalty programs and branded content like
recipes and health tips, and promote their stores in customers’ map view. The app--FreshEBT--is available at the Apple Store and Google Play. It was developed by Propel, a software company that aims to make America’s safety net more user friendly.

Source: Propel, FreshEBT

It's National Zucchini Day!

At GardenShare we love everything Zucchini! We are so excited to celebrate National Zucchini Day with you all that we just had to included two easy-to-make zucchini recipes for a fun summer occasion.

Zucchini Pie
  • Serves 6
  • Hands-On Time 15 min
  • Total Time 1 hr 20 min

  1. 3cups grated zucchini
  2. 1small onion, chopped
  3. 1cup all-purpose flour
  4. 1cup grated provolone cheese
  5. 3eggs, beaten
  6. 1/4cup vegetable oil
  7. 4tablespoons grated Parmesan
  8. 2teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  9. 1teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1teaspoon kosher salt
  11. 1/2teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan.
  2. Spoon the zucchini mixture into a 10-inch round glass pie plate or metal pie pan that has been coated with vegetable cooking spray.
  3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with the reserved Parmesan. Cool 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Zucchini Spice Bread
  • Makes 1 loaf
  • Hands-On Time 15 min
  • Total Time 2 hrs 15 min


  1. 1/2cup canola oil, plus more for the pan
  2. 1 1/2cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  3. 1teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1/2teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 1/2teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1/4teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/4teaspoon ground nutmeg
  9. pinch ground cloves
  10. 1/2cup light brown sugar
  11. 1/4cup granulated sugar
  12. 2large eggs
  13. 1teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  14. 1medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Oil an 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, light brown and granulated sugars, eggs, and vanilla; mix in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  3. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, August 6, 2017


A new USDA report that examines the relationship between food security and the health of working adults finds lower food security is associated with higher probability of hypertension, coronary heart disease (CHD), hepatitis, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. Food security status is also strongly related to (1) the likelihood of chronic disease in general, (2) the number of chronic conditions reported, and (3) to self-assessed health. Adults in households with very low food security were 15.3 percentage points more likely to have any chronic illness than adults in households with high food security, as is shown in the  gure below.  Adults in households with marginal food security were 9 percentage points less likely to report excellent health, compared to those in households with high food security. Moreover, differences between adults in households with marginal, low, and very low food security are very often statistically significant, which suggests that looking at the entire range of food security is important for understanding chronic illness and potential economic hardship. Indeed, food security status is more strongly predictive of chronic illness in some cases even than income.
Source: USDA, 7/17/17 Food Insecurity & Adult Health

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Win-win of local food in school lunches

Wayne County, New York, is the state’s biggest apple producer. Yet in 2013, public schools served lunches that included apples from Washington. At the end of the lunch period, the lovely, whole Washington apples ended up mostly uneaten in the garbage.
Foodlink, a Rochester, NY, food bank, set about solving the problem. A recent study showed that children were more likely to eat sliced fruit than whole. Since Foodlink had the facilities to wash, slice and package apples into portions, it decided to purchase apples from local farmers, process them, and sell them back to local schools.The program has been a success. Since July 2014, Foodlink has purchased 3.8 million pounds of local apples, investing $600,000 into the local agricultural economy. Children are eating the apple slices. And Foodlink uses revenue from apple sales in its own kitchen to prepare scratch-cooked meals for local school lunches, after-school and summer programs.

Source: NPR, 8/1/17, Investing in Apples

Friday, August 4, 2017


SNAP plays an important role in encouraging and supporting work a new report says. Most SNAP participants who can work, do work. The program’s benefit structure is designed to reward earnings over unearned income, giving participants an incentive to work.  Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP — and more than 80% work in the year before or after receiving SNAP. SNAP’s benefit design has four key features that support work:

  • An entitlement structure that guarantees food assistance will be available to any eligible applicant when they need it;
  • A benefit formula that favors earned income over other income through an earned income deduction;
  • A benefit phase out structure that decreases benefits gradually as income rises; and
  • A state option to ease the modest benefit cliff.

Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 7/25/17, SNAP Work Incentives

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Summer with GardenShare

I love to eat and I love to learn about what I am eating. Knowing where my food came from, and what my food is made out of, gives me a sense of agency over my health. Although I have never refused to eat a piece of fruit because it has traveled all the way from Mexico to reach me, nor have I denied a piece of candy because of it's high sugar content, I still like to read every label to understand what it is I am putting into my body- the good and the bad.

This interest in food ignited my interest in GardenShare. I was instantly absorbed by the motto, "Healthy Food. Healthy Farms. Everybody Eats". Sounds simple enough, but it's not. Accessibility to healthy, nutritious, and local fresh food is a convoluted issue. Putting food on the table isn't always easy. GardenShare believes that it should be.

I applied to intern with GardenShare for a multitude of reasons. The two main ones were that this internship would allow me to obtain a deeper understanding of the complexities of food insecurity and local food economies, while also allowing to prolong my unwillingness to leave Canton for another ten weeks.

This summer, everything I thought I knew about the north country has been challenged. The most rewarding aspect that has come out of this internship have been the people.  I have had the unique opportunity to engage in stimulating conversations with local farmers about bees, mushrooms, goats, sustainability, etc. I have visited the markets around the county and have seen such a diverse community of farmers and artists that I never would have come into contact with had I not been involved with GardenShare. Similarly, I spent nights volunteering at Campus Kitchens, talking with families who rely on the nutrition and accessibility of community free meals.

Ten weeks goes by fast. The weather has finally decided to act like summer and I feel like I have just started to really understand my role as an intern, yet I am leaving. I can only hope that I can help GardenShare by continuing to share what it is we do here, and how important it is for this community and many like it.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

SNAP use is highest in rural areas and small towns

Households in counties determined by the U.S. Census Bureau to be rural and small town are more likely to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than their metro area counterparts, according to SNAP Maps, a new interactive data tool released today by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). Nationally, over the five years studied, on average, 16 percent of rural and small town households participated in SNAP, compared to 13 percent of households in metro areas. On a state-by-state and county-by county basis, rural and small town participation is typically higher

“No community in America is immune to hunger, but rural and small town areas are especially hard hit,” said Jim Weill, president, FRAC.
Census Bureau data show 15 percent of non-metro households and 12 percent of metro households are food insecure. These new state-by-state and county-by-county analyses show a virtually identical pattern in SNAP participation.
According to FRAC, this new data tool will allow local, state, and national policymakers and program administrators, as well as advocates, media, and others, to understand how substantial numbers of struggling families in every county across the country need help from SNAP. It will also serve to dispel too-frequently repeated myths and stereotypes.
“SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger and is critical to keeping and lifting low-income households — including massive numbers in rural and small town areas — out of poverty and hunger,” added Weill. “SNAP is one of the nation’s very best investments, and it is unacceptable that this proven and effective program is under attack.”
Both the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget and the House Budget Committee’s FY 2018 budget resolution propose dramatic cuts to SNAP. The House budget resolution, which is expected to be voted on in September, gives reconciliation instructions to the House Agriculture Committee to make $10 billion in cuts over 10 years to programs in its jurisdiction — a reduction clearly pointed at SNAP. The budget also calls for another $150 billion in SNAP cuts through benefit and eligibility restrictions and structural changes in the latter part of the 10-year budget window.
To learn more, visit

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Veggie of the Month: Tomatoes

  • People used to be afraid to eat tomatoes due to the fact that they are related to the deadly nightshade plant
  • Every year there is a tomato festival in Spain, in which people throw about 150,000 tomatoes at one another.
  • Cooked tomatoes are actually better for you than raw ones, as more antioxidants are released during the cooking process
  •  93% of gardeners in the US include tomato plants in their gardens


Gazpacho: This classic Spanish, summer dish is a perfect way to end a hot summer day. Bonus: not only does this soup incorporate tomatoes, it also uses cucumber, onion, and peppers which should also be available from local farms this month.

    1cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
    2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
    4 plum tomatoes
    1 red onion
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
    1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    1/4 cup good olive oil
    1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop