Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE): Garden Wagon

The Hilltown Home Garden Exchange  (HHuGE)
Organized by the Eating’s Not Optional Committee (ENOC)

Greens in the garden (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Abundant greens in the garden to share. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Do you grow fruit or veggies at home?  HHuGE will bring together
 Hilltown residents who want to share, learn, and encourage growing food at home and want to distribute their excess bounty throughout the Hilltowns via their HHuGE Garden Wagon.

What’s a HHuGE Garden Wagon?

It’s a big beautiful portable shed/produce stand that will hold all of the nutritious, fresh food from your home garden that you bring to it.  It’s on wheels, so it will make its appearance at hot spots like the Chesterfield Parade and the Cummington Fairgrounds!

What will it look like?

We don’t know yet, but if you are a woodworker or artist, and want to contribute your ideas, let us know!  Its default location isn’t yet determined, but we’ll let you know when it is!  We want it to be open for business whenever you are!

Also inside, you’ll find garden tools to share, and a whole host of supplies anyone would need to promote a healthy garden.

What Will People Exchange or Pick Up at HHuGE?

Here are some ideas:

  • surplus homegrown fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers
  • seedlings, propagated cuttings and seeds you have saved
  • recipes and food preparation menus
  • advice and services related to gardening
  • Harvesting Hands (see below), for food that won’t otherwise be used.

and perhaps later:

  • compost and compost worms
  • manure and mulch
  • chooks and eggs
  • extra garden tools, pots, pruning and related hardware

Hey, What’s the Big Idea?

Nature is abundant, but this abundance isn’t always evenly distributed. This year, you have tons of lettuce, but very few tomatoes.  Your neighbor has plenty of tomatoes but no onions. Illness stopped that neighbor from growing anything at all. It’s amazing what a small plot of land, or a few pots for container gardening can yield. This movable wagon is the place where community members who are passionate about gardening, good food and building community come together to provide a central space to share their homegrown or gleaned surpluses, and provide fresh, wholesome produce for anyone who wants it. The exchange offers a number of strong social and environmental benefits, including:

  • reducing waste by redistributing surplus fruits, vegetables, herbs and seeds
  • cultivating networks within the neighborhood and building stronger communities
  • providing healthy, seasonal food for the community
  • sharing valuable skills in gardening and food preparation
  • avoiding greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for produce transported from outside the local area.

What Can I Do RIGHT NOW?

  • Bring the idea to the organizations you are involved in and ask them to become a sponsor. Sponsors stand behind the project to make sure it succeeds. We want our sponsor-base as broad as possible. Become a HHuGE Sponsor!
  • ARTISTS! Design the button for our sponsors!
  • Take the Lead! Plant more Seed! Put in a few extra plants in the ground or grow a few extra seedlings
  • Transport neighborhood produce. Cut down on fruit/veggie commutes by offering to pick up garden produce on your way to the HHuGE Wagon!
  • Consider participating in Half-Day Community Harvest Projects called “Harvesting Hands.” Perhaps you are a land-owner who doesn’t have the time or capacity to harvest a particular crop. We can bring together people who will harvest it to ensure it doesn’t go to waste.
  • Request a Half-day Community Harvest to pick your trees, bushes or other produce that you can’t gather this year for whatever reason (vacation, illness, broken equipment, etc)
  • Become one of our Harvesting Hands. These members participate in a Half-Day Community Harvest during summer and fall, to rescue otherwise neglected crop.
  • Help set up the Harvesting Hands Hotline. Food at the peak of freshness can’t wait! Our hotline will bring together needy ripe food with the Harvesting Hands that can rescue it!
  • Do you know your plants? Can you help care for or identify plants, like herbs and medicinal weeds from the poisonous ones? We need people who can help label fruits, vegetables, hens, etc.
  • Do you need help in caring for or identifying your fruits, vegetables, hens, etc? Join in, and maybe we can help!
    Plan to host a Harvesting Party or teach a Mini 101 (i.e. marmalade, ketchup, jam-making party, cheese making, canning, knitting, etc.)
  • Need to borrow gardening tools or have extra ones to give away? Set them aside now, or start your ‘Wish List.’
    Can you teach others to care for and recondition gardening equipment?
  • Could you use food donations for a local upcoming charity event?
  • A HHuGE posterboard might help improve communication and alert people to what is arriving at the Wagon soon.

Where will the HHuGE Garden Wagon BE and when will it start?

We are investigating a location: Ideally, it should be public, easily accessible and open to the involvement of a broad spectrum of participants.

We are still working out details like location, regularity, starting and
 finishing times, and beginning date. We are also looking for people who have the carpentry skills or spare supplies to help us build the HHuGE Garden Wagon on Wheels, which can close up at night to keep away animals, but will open up easily during the day. We also request ideas from artists who will make this Wagon the talk of the town(s)! Does it look like a Chuck wagon or nothing that we’ve seen before?

How will it work?

This works best when people donate produce regularly and take only what they need.  No one will keep count of how much individuals have taken or brought, and in other communities, this is something people deeply appreciate. After all, the central idea of the exchange is to share surplus, guided by the simple principle of contributing what you can and taking what you can use – or as the slogan goes: “donate and take-away.” This format ensures that all the food is distributed and that the project remains accessible.

Who can participate?

If you eat, you’re in. No one will be excluded from participating because they don’t have a garden or produce available at this particular time. We welcome people who can’t tell a carrot from a kiwi. Our goal is to promote gardening, not insist on it. Hopefully, those new to planting crops will learn how easy and fun it actually is! But everyone…

EVERYONE needs to eat. Eating’s Not Optional!!! So if you eat, you can participate.

Community members can become empowered when they partake in creating their own level of personal well being as well as promoting community wellness, be it helping with food gathering, preparation, offering skill, knowledge, garden space, donations, etc. Get involved!

Are the Food Pantries Involved in This?

Yes! All of the area food pantries are HHuGE Sponsors!

What about CSA’s and Local Farms? Will it hurt their businesses?

HHuGE is devoted to networking HOME GARDENERS, and we fully expect that purchases at CSA’s and local farms will only increase as we see a HHuGE success. We don’t anticipate HHuGE (as large as we anticipate it being…) will ever replace CSA’s and local farms. Nothing develops a taste for fresh local produce like…well…Fresh Local Produce!!!

WAIT! I don’t live in the Hilltowns. How can I get involved?

Start your own HuGE project! There are many similar programs all across the country and there are many models to follow. HHuGE will be just one of them.

I have an idea! How do I get more involved?

If you think this is a fun idea, and you want to contribute your time and energies into shaping how it turns out, come to the ENOC Committee Meeting at the Creamery on Tuesday, May 19th at 8:30 am or email Kathy McMahon at PeakShrink@PeakOilBlues.com and ask to be sent our minutes. If you are interested in learning more, or volunteering, send us an email. Easy as that! Indicate the following interests:

There are TEN ways to get involved:

  1. I’m putting in extra seeds in the ground as we speak.
  2. I know plants.
  3. I want to be a Harvest Hand and save endangered produce.
  4. I want to throw a Harvest Party or teach a Mini 101.
  5. I want to Pick Up produce from my neighbors.
  6. My group wants to be a HHuGE Sponsor (and get the cool button).
  7. I design cool buttons and want to circulate my best designs to HHuGE Sponsors.
  8. I have lonely produce that needs Harvesting Hands!
  9. I want to help set up the Harvesting Hands Hotline (online).
  10. I want to work on the HHuGE Garden Wagon

1 Comment

  1. June 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    HHuGE google calendar of events is

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: