There is never a dull moment at Wyoming Hunger Initiative! Our latest endeavor, announced last Wednesday, is a partnership with the Cent$ible Nutrition Program and Master Gardener—two University of Wyoming Extension programs that also serve all 23 counties in Wyoming.
So, how did it all come to be? Glad you asked.
Over the winter, Wyoming Hunger Initiative Regional Directors Dr. Caitlin Youngquist and Lori Dickinson, both University of Wyoming Extension employees, pitched an idea to the First Lady: since fresh produce is notoriously hard to acquire for food pantries, what if a local growing effort was launched to make it easier? What if gardeners simply...grew a little extra in their own gardens to set aside for donation? And! What if existing community gardens did the same thing? And!! What if money was available to help build new community garden plots to join the effort?
Wyoming Hunger Initiative's Food from the Farm + Ranch had a very successful first year securing domestic livestock for donation to food pantries. This new angle was just the thing to further bolster the program; a plot was hatched and Grow a Little Extra was born.
First, six varieties of vegetables were chosen for their ease/rate of growing and utility for food pantries: beans, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, squash, and spinach. While Wyoming might not be known for having the most...predictable climate (or maybe it's predictability is its unpredictability!) it's definitely possible to have a successful gardening experience. Choosing the right crops is key.
Next: preparing everything for delivery to each University of Wyoming Extension office. Because Grow a Little Extra makes the seeds available at no cost, this portion of the program required our favorite "all hands on deck" approach.
Once all the packets were prepared, boxes containing all the seed varieties along with marketing materials were sent to each Wyoming county.
These seeds are available at no cost to gardeners by simply visiting your local county Extension office! Not sure where to find it? You can search the listing by clicking here. Each county has a Cent$ible Nutrition Program Educator who is very excited to help you start growing.
Throughout the summer, tend those seeds as they turn into food insecurity-fighting plants! We'd love for you to share photos of your garden at every stage on social media using the hashtag #307growextra. When you harvest the produce for donation, all you'll need to do is simply deliver it to your local Extension office to be weighed—each Cent$ible Nutrition Program Educator will handle the distribution to local food pantries where they'll benefit local families who might not otherwise be able to have produce in their refrigerators this year. Check out the program page for Grow a Little Extra to learn more about the program as well as find helpful guides and videos to optimize your gardening experience this season.
We can end hunger in Wyoming, together.