The Coast News Group
Izzy Weare of Encinitas is the youngest volunteer in the Homegrown Hunger Relief project spearheaded by Mim Michelove of Healthy Day Partners. Izzy will grow vegetables at home for the Community Resource Center Nutrition Program in Encinitas. Photo by Mim Michelove
ColumnsJano's Garden

Volunteer to help reduce food insecurity in North County

As we end the season of holiday giving and start a new year, I have heard many of my friends and colleagues talk about New Year’s resolutions.

Many of these folks talk about volunteering for local food programs.


ProduceGood, a local nonprofit food recovery program in North County, epitomizes the concept of “gleaning,” which is the US Department of Agriculture defines as the “act of collecting excess fresh food from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants.”

Nita Kurmins Gilson, Alexandra White and Jerilyn White began ProduceGood in 2014 and since then have recovered 1 million pounds of food collected by staff and volunteers from farmers markets, Jimbo’s Grocery Store, Yasukochi Family Farms and 75 farmers and home orchards in the San Diego area.

The food is distributed to local food pantry distribution centers including the One Kitchen Collaborative in Oceanside.

The ProduceGood staff and community volunteers work 52 weeks a year to help end hunger in San Diego.

Contact [email protected] or call (760) 492-3467 to find out more about becoming a volunteer.


Home gardeners and community gardeners can donate their garden produce to an innovative program created by Mim Michelove and Encinitas-based Healthy Day Partners.

The project, Homegrown Hunger Relief, “helps improve local community health and strengthens the local food system, while reducing food waste.”

Michelove and her staff have set up five “donation stations” in Encinitas and Carlsbad where local gardeners can drop off their homegrown garden produce. The gardeners can also work with the staff to produce vegetable seedlings, which produce more food!

The group also works with local organic food markets, such as Jimbo’s, to glean from the produce at the store. The donation stations are located (on Sundays only) at the San Diego Botanic Garden, the Encinitas Library, the Olivenhain Hotel and the Village Rock Shop in Carlsbad.

For complete instructions regarding garden produce donations, visit

This project comes full circle each week, as the donated produce is delivered to the Community Resource Center in Encinitas, where it is distributed to local residents.

For more information regarding food distribution, visit or call (760) 753-1156.

Mim will also host a four-session class at the San Diego Botanic Garden, beginning Jan. 14h. The class, “Grow Food — End Hunger — Save the Planet,” will enliven participants’ vegetable gardening skills and teach them how to produce enough in one’s garden to feed a family plus another family in need.

The extra produce will be distributed at the Community Resource Center through the Homegrown Relief Program. Contact the San Diego Botanic Garden, [email protected], for more information.


Homegrown Hunger Relief and ProduceGood are just two of the many food recovery and food pantry distribution projects in North County. Many local churches and community centers have begun serving those local residents who are experiencing food insecurity.

Considering that 1 in 4 San Diego residents is experiencing or has previously experienced this issue, we owe it to our fellow residents to help pass our gardening expertise forward in this new year.

Happy gardening and volunteering to our readers.

Jano Nightingale is a Master Gardener who teaches vegetable gardening at the Carlsbad Senior Center and is involved in food distribution projects for local residents. For information regarding her classes and local projects, contact her at [email protected].