Many Utah gardeners have already started enjoying apricots, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers they’ve grown in a backyard plot.
But what will they do in a few weeks, when the harvest fills the kitchen counter and exceeds what they can put in their refrigerator — or stomach?
Instead of tossing those extra fruits and vegetables, consider donating them to those in need. In Utah, 355,550 residents are currently facing hunger, according to national statistics from Feed America.
While many organizations across the Salt Lake valley accept non-perishable food, only some have the capacity to store garden produce.
Here are five Utah organizations that can accept and distribute your surplus harvest.
Take extra produce to a GardenShare site
The GardenShare program, operated by Waste Less Solutions, provides a way for neighborhood gardeners to donate excess produce to schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, emergency pantries and refugee centers. Go to wastelesssolutions.org/gardenshare to find the nearest donation site.
Organizers recommend harvesting produce when it has three to five days of life remaining so that it can be enjoyed at its peak.
Volunteers rescue fruit from backyard trees
Can’t eat all the fruit on that backyard tree?
Sign up for the FruitShare program, run by The Green Urban Lunchbox. Volunteers will harvest fresh fruit from registered trees and distribute it to senior centers, healthcare facilities and hunger relief organizations.
For a small fee, volunteers also will prune, fertilize and perform other tree maintenance.
Community dining hall needs donations
Catholic Community Services provides social services along the Wasatch Front and throughout Northern Utah. Its food bank and dining hall assist community members who are experiencing hunger.
The Salt Lake location, at 437 W. 200 South, accepts produce donations Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. For more information, visit the website at ccsutah.org
Fresh food accepted in Davis County
The Bountiful Food Pantry works to alleviate hunger in Davis County. Eligible clients can visit the pantry twice each month to receive one week’s worth of groceries. Individual food donations make up 30% of the pantry’s goods.
It is located at 480 E. 150 North, and welcomes fresh fruit and vegetable donations Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon; and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 6 to 8 p.m. More details at bountifulfoodpantry.org/
Feed hungry U. students
The Feed U Pantry opened in October of 2014 after a survey of the University of Utah community found that 51% of respondents were food insecure. Today, it helps feed students, faculty, staff, and their families.
Located in the basement of the Olpin Student Union Building, 200 S Central Campus Dr., it is typically open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. But check the website before you go because hours sometimes vary depending on the school calendar. Hours are updated weekly.
What to do when produce is too ripe to donate
Here are ways to avoid food waste when your produce is past its prime.
Compost it • Salt Lake City residents can participate in a free compost program by requesting a brown waste bin for their home. Weeds, lawn clippings, leaves, tree branches, tea bags, coffee grounds, produce and eggshells can go into the bin. (Food items must be uncontaminated by meat or dairy.)
The waste is processed at Salt Lake City’s facility that turns it into wood chips, mulch, and compost, which is then available for purchase at the Salt Lake Valley Landfill, 6030 W. California Ave. (1300 South).
Want to start your own compost pile? Here’s a guide from Wasatch Community Gardens.
Transform it • Wasatch Resource Recovery accepts small volumes of residential food waste — under 15 gallons per trip. The company’s giant food digester will turn it into renewable natural gas and nutrient-rich soil.
Acceptable items include fruits and vegetables as well as meat, dairy products and bread. The food scraps can be dropped off — for free — just inside the facility gates at 1370 W. Center St., North Salt Lake.
Bottle or freeze it • Ripe produce is a great candidate for canning and freezing. Utah State University Extension in Salt Lake County is offering a free online class on Aug. 3 to learn the basics. USU also has a Preserve the Harvest lecture series for $5 per course.