Drought Impacts Food Share Gardens

5-27 jbo accessCENTRAL POINT, Ore. – It’s the first harvest of the season at the Central Point food share garden, as ACCESS volunteers yank beets out of the ground. Today’s yield is around 8.5 pounds, a drop in the bucket compared to the 60,000 pounds of food ACCESS produces each year.

“What we’re trying to do is bring good, organic, fresh produce to people who can’t really afford it,” said volunteer Paula Hefter.

Most of that food is just being planted, meaning now is the time to turn on the water. And this year there’s very little of it. Of the five gardens ACCESS manages, three use well water. The other two are on city water.

The latter should be fine, but drying wells are forcing access to make some hard choices.

“If we can’t be assured of having water on those plants, you have to think ‘hmmm, is it worth taking the time and effort to put those in the ground?” said ACCESS Food Share Garden Developer Nan King.

ACCESS is already in the process of making that decision on at least one of their five gardens.

For food pantries, which receive upwards of a hundred pounds of produce a week from ACCESS, that means switching to frozen.

Not only will that mean less excitement among their customers, but they say fewer people will show up.

“People prefer fresh,” said Lisa Sutton, Social Services Manager at the Salvation Army. “They even call and ask ‘are you guys getting produce yet?’”

How much of a shortage we end up with remains to be seen. But ACCESS says they simply plan to make the most of what they have.

“That’s always the bottom line, harvest as much as we can,” said King.