At Fall Creek Gardens, we donate most of the food that we grow in our teaching garden. We know that not everyone has time, space, or energy to grow their own food, and people living in poverty have to make very careful choices about how they spend their food dollars. Not only that, but food banks and food pantries sometimes have limited ability to offer fresh produce to their clients. All of this makes it very difficult for people with limited income to make healthy dietary choices. We hope that our donations can be one small part of the solution to hunger in Indianapolis, and we are pleased to be a part of so many efforts in our community seeking to ensure that all of our neighbors have food on the table each day.
It is rare, though, for us to know what happens to the produce we grow and donate, or to hear from the people who take it home, and so it was wonderful to receive the following email, from Kay Niedenthal, an educator with the Family Nutrition Program at the Marion County Purdue Extension. Kay is a champion gardener and a friend to us at Fall Creek Gardens. She also has a fantastic sense of humor–evident in the subject line of her email: Squash Heaven
“Your wonderful Italian squashes were a big hit with my Family Nutrition Program class. We sautéed squash, onion and tomatoes with seasonings, tossed in handfuls of trimmed greens, and topped it with shredded cheese. Everybody liked the demonstration dish and got to take home their own squash and greens. My Chinese participants were happy to have radishes with tops attached. They eat every bite of radishes.”
Kay teaches groups of seniors how to make healthy lifestyle changes and maximize their food budgets through her work in the Family Nutrition Program. She shares healthy recipes and USDA nutrition information. She tries to use garden-fresh produce as much as possible in her classes–in her own words: I love the fabulous vegetables and fruits grown in Indiana soil, so I demonstrate many recipes that showcase their flavors.
We had an enormously successful squash season in our garden this summer, and one variety in particular was happy to take over all available space: an Italian heirloom called the Tromboncino (or “little trumpet/trombone”) squash. Unlike many varieties, they are good to eat while immature with a flavor similar to summer squash or zucchini, but they also can be allowed to fully mature into winter squash that will keep well into the cold season. Not only that, but they grow into long, squiggly shapes and have given us lots of opportunities to answer the question: What IS that?
When Kay stopped by recently to see if we had extra produce for her seniors, we immediately thought of the large numbers of squash, greens, and radishes waiting to be harvested in our garden. By donating, we can help Kay stretch her food budget for her classes, enabling her to offer fresh vegetables and demonstrate a healthy new recipe that her students can easily recreate on their own.
We are delighted that our bountiful harvest of Tromboncino squash could be used to help support the vital service that Kay provides to seniors in the community. Thank you, Kay, for the wonderful work that you do, and for letting our garden play a small part!