Sandoval County Master Gardener’s Seed2Need project this month received the International Master Gardeners Conference Award for excellence in the community service category.
The conference, held Oct. 11-14 in Charleston, W.Va., was attended by about 1,000 master gardeners from throughout the United States, Canada and South Korea.
Seed2Need is the brainchild of Corrales resident Penny Davis, one of dozens of Sandoval County residents trained as master gardeners by New Mexico State University horticulturists through the county Extension Service.
Davis was moved by the plight of people hit by the economic downturn in 2008 who were seeking food assistance. Beginning with a 40-foot-by-40-foot garden, Davis and fellow master gardeners used their skills to produce fresh vegetables that they donated to local food pantries.
Each year since then, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, they have provided tens of thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables primarily to Storehouse West and St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho and the Rio Grande Food Project in Albuquerque.
Corrales residents have donated garden space. This year, the project had three gardens covering 1.5 acres, which yielded about 40,000 pounds of produce, primarily tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, green chile, melons and green beans. The food has been distributed to food pantries in Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, Bernalillo and Placitas.
Davis said they chose the crops based on their nutritional value, yield and on information from the food pantries about what was most needed.
Sandoval County Master Gardeners also won an International Master Gardeners Conference Award in 2009 for the Waterwise Demonstration Garden project near the Esther Bone Memorial Library in Rio Rancho.
Harvesting is almost finished at the Seed2Need garden this year. Anyone interested in volunteering for next year should email Penny Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.