Jan 3rd, 2012

Growing Veggies with Food Stamps — it's a SNAP

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Did you know that you could buy plants and seeds with food stamps? Over 46 million Americans use food stamps —  nearly 15 percent of the population — but many don’t know they use food stamps to buy plants that will produce food for them all summer long.  And while having  a big plot for a garden is a plus,  you can grow food on containers, and even urban rooftop Gardens.  Gardeners tend to be creative types. I’ve seen Christmas lights used in green houses to warm early seeds,  gutters attached to walls of buildings for a creative vertical garden,  and even HGTV has  a story on rooftop gardens:  “No yard? No problem.”

Here at the Garden, we’ve done our best to help produce  fresh, local veggies and deliver them, with our partners, to those who need them most. Each season we  grow nearly 10,000 lbs of greens, squash, tomatoes, califlower, zucchini, peppers, broccoli and more  in our Community Kitchen Garden. Those veggies go to nearby nonprofit, FeedMore, the parent organization for The Central Virginia FoodBank and Meals on Wheels of Central Virginia to feed those who need fresh veggies most, but can’t buy them.

I love how this video from non-profit, Snap Gardens, explains how growing your own food when you are living in poverty is empowering. It offers a way for parents to spend time and connect with their children and to actually teach their children about gardening.  So cool.


The non-profit,  Dinner Garden,  sends starter seeds to anyone who wants them.    Dinner Garden founder, Holly Hirshberg, makes preparing veggies and fruits less intimidating by illustrating how to cut and eat everything from cantaloupe to cucumbers on her YouTube channel.

With the help of a $1,000 microgrant from Awesome Food, SNAP Gardens will start working with The Dinner Garden … to set up a telephone hotline with gardening information. (Simon said that Dinner Garden founder Holly Hirshberg didn’t know about using SNAP benefits for seeds until he told her.) Part of the grant will also pay to include a flyer about using EBT for seeds with every packet The Dinner Garden sends out, with the assumption that many of those requesting free seeds might also be eligible for SNAP.

Or, if you are not a gardener, you might consider using your  SNAP to buy fresh local produce at the Farmer’s Market. Often the prices on veggies at the market are cheaper than the grocery store — especially at the end of the day when the market is closing.  Fresh veggies, weather you grow them yourself, get them at the local farmers market or get them from FeedMore, can’t be beat when it comes to taste & nutrition.

Read more of the article from Grist.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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