COLLEGE PLACE -- A small team of Blue Mountain Action Council volunteers worked through the early morning heat Saturday to help weed plants and harvest produce for local food banks.
BMAC Gleaning Coordinator Casi Christensen led the volunteers as they worked through 10 rows of vegetables and a squash patch at the Walla Walla Community Harvest Giving Garden here.
"We try to plant the things that people would be familiar with and eat, that is why we have so many tomatoes and beans," Christensen said, adding the more familiar tomatoes and beans still have a while before harvest.
But there was plenty of chard and beets to be pulled and cut. Christensen said they will include recipes in English and Spanish for the recipients who might be unfamiliar with the two vegetables and how to prepare them.
Christensen said about 300 extra families have started using local food banks in recent months.
In previous years, the gleaning program has focused on procuring donations of extra or unharvested fruits and vegetables from local growers.
This year, the program added more emphasis on growing rather than gleaning with the "Plant-A-Row" for the hungry program and the addition of the community garden.
Approximately 200 pounds of seeds were donated to BMAC earlier this year, and two-thirds of those seeds were donated to local home gardeners to cultivate donations for food banks.
So far this year, Christensen said approximately 150 pounds of produced have been collected and donated.
"It's just a place to get people excited and into gardening and every little bit helps," Christensen said.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.