Living Sustainably: Food projects help share the summer bounty

By Lisa Uganski, Ottawa Food
It’s summertime in West Michigan, which means it is time to enjoy the abundance of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. However, not everyone has access to the juicy strawberries, crisp asparagus, and tasty blueberries that are grown right here in our community.
The good news is that you can help provide local fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need by participating in one of the three following programs, while supporting your local growers at the same time.
1) Folks who love buying all that fresh produce at the Holland Farmers Market can keep on buying extra and share it through Ottawa Food’s Produce Donation Program.
On eight dates this summer at the market, a donation table will be set up that will be staffed by members of Ottawa Food from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Stop by and pick up a donation bag. When you’re finished shopping, bring your produce donation back to the table, and it will be distributed to those in need through local food resource agencies.
Produce donation is just one part of Ottawa Food’s campaign to provide local fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need.

2) Another opportunity to share the bounty is the Pick for Pantries program which allows U-pick patrons at participating Ottawa County produce farms to donate a portion of their pick to local food pantries.
You can head out to Visser Farm’s U-Pick Strawberry Patch, 7200 112th Ave., on June 19, 21 and 26 (weather permitting) to pick strawberries and help support local food pantries. Just grab a green bucket with the Ottawa Food logo and fill it up with as much as you would like to donate. Local food pantries will distribute the berries to families in need.
In July, Pick for Pantries will take place at Bowerman Blueberries and Crossroads Blueberries.  Ottawa Food is looking for a U-pick apple farm to participate in the fall. Visit Ottawa Food’s Facebook page for updates.
Ottawa Food3) A third way to provide fresh produce for others is to donate some of the goodies from your own garden to your local food pantry. Extra tomatoes? Lots of zucchini? Many people in this community would love an opportunity to enjoy those delicious items! Call your local pantry ahead of time to make sure they accept fresh produce and to find out when they are open.
Area food pantries include the following:

 Community Action House, Holland
 Salvation Army, Holland
 Harvest Stand Ministries, Zeeland
 Harvest Bible Chapel Food Pantry, West Olive

We are blessed to live in an area that produces such a wide variety of fresh and healthy food. We hope that you will consider participating in one of these programs to help share this abundance with those who otherwise might go without.
 Lisa Uganski is the coordinator of Ottawa Food, a collaboration of local agencies and individuals working to ensure that all Ottawa County residents have access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices. To get involved with Ottawa Food, visit for more information.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.