I've just launched my latest project - FoodPool.org.
For the last couple years I have been growing a serious food garden - I have about 800 square feet under cultivation. I often generate much more produce than I can use. Or, more accurately, the garden produces too much of a given foodstuff at one time. I harvested eighty pounds of onions the other day, and there are still more onions out in the field. With onions, I can dry them and hang them in my root cellar for many months. But still, eighty pounds of onions with more on the way is a lot of onions. The same thing happened with chard. Unlike onions, you can't keep Swiss chard indefinitely, and there is only so much chard I can eat before I get pretty darned tired of it.
I think zucchini is the quintessential over productive garden vegetable. Everyone I know who has ever grown zucchini – even if it was just one plant – tells a similar story. In summer you get that first zucchini fresh from the garden. You slice it up and put it in a green salad without cooking it because you really want to taste pure zucchini. A couple more zucchini are produced, so you chop them up and put them in a stir fry. More zucchini grows, which is great for zucchini bread, zucchini pancakes, and zucchini muffins. The next zucchini as you give to your neighbors. After that you give zucchini to your friends. Later still you give zucchini your enemies. Eventually everyone you know, or have ever met, has all the zucchini they can take. Chances are they have zucchini in their garden too. But your plant isn't done - there is more zucchini on the way.
So what do we do with all this abundance?
Thanks to Michael Pollan, Michelle Obama, Alice Waters, global warming and a poor economy, there is a renewed interest in home gardening. More and more people have gardens full of beautiful food. Often people end up with piles of unwanted zucchini, persimmons rotting on the ground, oranges, apples and lemons hanging endlessly uneated on their trees, and many other extra garden products going to waste. These excess fruits and vegetables actually become a problem, attracting fruit flies, rodents, and other pests.
I see the "problem" of excess garden produce as an opportunity! It is an opportunity to help provide those in need with fresh, ripe, homegrown produce. The only obstacle lies in linking home growers with their hungry neighbors. My answer is "FoodPooling." The goal for FoodPool is to become a "carpool for food." FoodPool.org seeks to enroll people that wish to donate their extra homegrown fruits and vegetables, and connect them with those willing to collect the food and transport it to the food bank.
Initially FoodPool is centered around the Montclair district of Oakland, California. However, I can't imagine anything more wonderful than to see the idea replicated around the country and beyond.
I would be delighted to hear your feedback and suggestions, and welcome support or assistance in any form. If nothing else, please pass this on to anyone you know that might be interested.
Postscript 2: FoodPool has failed to meet its objectives for encouraging and assisting in the creation of local neighborhood groups for the collection of garden produce. As a result, the board of directors made the difficult decision to suspend operations. FoodPool as a national organization ceased operating December 2014. There is still a FoodPool operating in West Towson, Maryland.