Community Roots, a program of Kootenai Environmental Alliance, has completed its third season of collecting surplus produce from local gardeners and farmers markets for delivery to local food assistance facilities. Beginning with only a handful of people and 3,000 pounds of donations in 2007, the program has now more than tripled its impact. More than 9000 pounds of fresh produce was distributed this season to people in our community who needed it.
This year, Community Roots maintained a garden plot at the Shared Harvest Community Garden on 10th and Foster in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Through the generous efforts of the KEA and the Garden’s supporters, particularly The Art Spirit Gallery, Community Roots built a garden shed out of re-claimed wood to act as a donation drop-off point and volunteer headquarters at the Shared Harvest Community Garden. Produce was sorted, weighed, and loaded into bicycle carts and vehicles for delivery at 15 partnered food assistance facilities in the area.
Shared Harvest Garden organizer Kim Normand contributed to the success by fielding volunteer phone calls and by encouraging plot owners at the garden to donate food to the program. Garden volunteers signed up to rotate watering and harvesting days at the Community Roots plot, and Normand’s leadership kept the entire community garden flourishing all season long.
Meanwhile, Davis Donuts, a great local business, publicized the program’s efforts on their street side sign. More importantly, their twice-weekly fresh food drop-off contributed enormously to Community Roots’ 2009 success. (Seriously, 2520 N 4th St, Coeur d’Alene — visit them and say thanks for us!)
This year also marked the first in a series of food preservation classes put on by the Community Roots Program. A great success, the class contained both volunteers and people on the receiving end of the produce donations. Community Roots intends to expand this venture into next year, focusing on education for both gardeners and recipients. “Educating people on how to best make use of what they grow or what they receive from our program is the real way to make a lasting impact on the community,” declares Korrine Kreilkamp, founder of Community Roots. “We think we have a lot more to offer in that regard, and we hope next year’s success will top this one.”
Community Roots remains a group effort. Without the aid of over 20 volunteers who regularly donate their evening or weekend, the program could not function successfully. “This unique kind of ecological and social service has attracted good people,” comments Kreilkamp. “There are a lot of smiles and laughter that go into being a Roots Volunteer.”