For several years, Holly Hirshberg's family had grown fruit and vegetables in a home garden during the summer months. She had enjoyed fresh tomato sandwiches, vine ripened cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, fresh herbs, like basil, thyme, and rosemary, potatoes, and watermelon. The fresh produce was a nice summer treat each year. Then in 2008, in the midst of a crumbling economy, the idea struck her that she could easily expand her garden to grow more produce, which she could donate to the food bank. That idea quickly grew into a plan where families and communities could weather the tough times and reduce or eliminate their reliance on food banks by growing produce themselves. Much like the Victory Gardens of the First and Second World Wars, these gardens would allow people to stretch their food budgets and enhance their nutritional intake. Individuals and families could have greater food security and take a direct part in that effort.
To help people achieve their gardens, she figured she would start at the beginning: provide people with vegetable seeds, free of charge. She could then support their efforts with gardening information and tips for cheap gardening in the space they had available, like patios, backyards, schoolyards, community lots, and church lawns. She envisioned a nation where front lawns, empty lots, medians, parks, schools, churches, and community centers devoted space to fruit and vegetable gardens. "The Dinner Garden isn't just about the seeds," she says. "It is about giving people hope. It is about showing people another way to live. The Dinner Garden is creating communities where families spend time together in a productive way and children learn that they can create something beautiful and useful to their family."
Holly registered The Dinner Garden as a non-profit corporation in the fall of 2008 in the State of Texas. At the beginning of 2009, The Dinner Garden began its mission of distributing seeds. In July 2009, the IRS granted 501(c)(3) status to The Dinner Garden. The Dinner Garden has reached into states all over the country and has provided seeds to thousands of families. They have partnered with organizations, food banks, and businesses across the country, like Catholic Charities, World Food Garden, Seeds for Food, the Wyoming Food Bank, the San Antonio Food Bank, One World Everybody Eats, Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army, His Harvest Stand, and The Rubber Stamp Shop.
Find out more at www.dinnergarden.org