Donate Extra Produce… and Plant Food Forests in Sioux Falls?

Glean for Good blogger Beth Jensen says the three counties in South Dakota are the poorest in the country. The actual placings vary from source to source and whether we count by median income or poverty rate, but in terms of food on the table, Feeding America says that 46% of South Dakotans live below the SNAP threshold of 130% poverty, and 106,000 South Dakotans—about one in eight—are food insecure.

How do we feed those hungry neighbors? Feeding America says it would take an additional $54.6 million to end food insecurity in South Dakota. We might save some of that money with two of Jensen’s suggestions. First, the Sioux Falls writer recommends donating our garden surpluses to local food banks. Garden produce can provide nutrition sorely lacking in the usually canned, boxed, and processed goods on the donation shelves. But don’t just show up at the food bank with your buckets of extra tomatoes and zucchini; call ahead, make sure your food bank takes perishable items. If your food bank does take such donations, do them a favor and clean your produce.

Jensen offers a longer-term solution in her link to a Sioux Falls organization called Project Food Forest. Their goals include replacing invasive species with native edible plants in publicly accessible plots around the city. Project Food Forest, founded by Veronica Shukla and Jackie Severin, sees food forests as a way to feed people without bureaucratic hassle while promoting biodiversity, soil conservation, carbon sequestration, and natural beauty in Sioux Falls.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but food does. Adding edible plants to city parks wouldn’t solve hunger year-round in South Dakota, but natural little grocery bushes and trees along the river would take a few bites out of our hunger problem.

4 Responses to Donate Extra Produce… and Plant Food Forests in Sioux Falls?

  1. A good idea, but does nothing for the poor and hungry in January when temps are -20, food does not grow on trees here 8 months out of the year. Ultimately this is the result of 30 years of republican rule, seems all of those minimum wage jobs republicans are so proud of don’t feed people either.

  2. sad thing is someone would come through and pick it all, and then turn around and try to sell it at organic prices.

  3. Roger Elgersma

    There is lots of food and lots of people. Getting that matched is the problem. There will always be both poor and rich. The kids need to learn that it takes work to get food and to be frugal with their money. I was once eating at the Banquet in Sioux Falls and told the person across the table that I grew up on a farm and although we grew tens of thousands of pounds of food, we were not supposed to waste one bite of that food by leaving it on our plate. There was a family sitting further down the table that we did not know and their eight year old girl said to her parents, ‘So that is why white people are rich, they do not waste.’ Well you can not just go up to someone and tell them that but if they learn by seeing is best. This plan to plant food where people can see it and access it might teach the kids that getting food takes time and consistency. Maybe better done by having a community garden at school. But any idea that works is ok.

  4. Hi all! Veronica here with Project Food Forest. To answer a few questions/comments:

    Tim: Definitely check out our FAQ page. People often bring up winters, but winters didn’t stop us from eating in cold climates before the global food production system. Before food was transported year-round around the world, people in cold climates would preserve their food for the winter. We plan to preserve surplus harvest (there will likely be remaining food because we will be planting native edibles that most people won’t feel comfortable harvesting).

    Roger: Check out Groundworks-Midwest! They do gardens at schools and are doing a fantastic job! Our project is a little different, and we also hope to teach people about sustainable and urban agriculture methods through the process.

    If anyone wants to know more feel free to contact me through the website linked in the article! Thanks for writing about us! Our mission is to empower people to feed themselves through agroforestry, edible landscaping, and education.