At the food bank, it’s too easy to feel like that tiny donation of home grown lettuce just isn’t worthy, even if it means a week of fresh salad for a family. You want your gestures to feel grand, and that’s why this time of year we food bank growers are all itching to redeem ourselves. But last weekend I picked two skimpy bags of produce between the food bank beds and my own plot, and it barely seemed worth the gas to get downtown.

Then a fellow gardener began lamenting how the summer had gotten away, how she needed to clean up her plot. I wondered out loud if she might want to donate some of her gargantuan chard leaves. She put her hands on her hips, studied the plants, and decided that she did.

“Thank you,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said. I watered a patch of wilted lettuces while she chopped away, humming, in her plot.

That night, a veteran pea patcher named Kerri emailed to say she was headed to the food bank the next day to register potential voters waiting for groceries. She was happy to pick the extra from anybody’s patch before she went, she said. Good timing, I wrote back.

In the morning we loaded up Kerri’s car with beets, chard, beans and a big pile of herbs, plus a big bag of lettuces that had come back to life overnight. Strength in numbers! Later she wrote to tell me that the trunkload of fresh produce and herbs flew out of there before she’d even finished her paperwork, and the clients were so happy just to get fresh food.

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