Garden/Food Pantry Survey

WHY THE SURVEY

In order to best determine the use of limited space at The Garden of Eden to grow and to acknowledge the desires of the clients of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, a survey was conducted. The following are the results of the survey. No statistical analyses were done but the results are considered representative of the clients in the pantry.

THE SURVEY AND ITS ADMINISTRATION

The survey consisted of an introduction and two questions. The introduction merely stated that The Garden of Eden provided food for the pantry and had collected more than 3700 pounds last year. All the foods grown at The Garden of Eden were listed and the responders were asked to circle the ones they were most likely to take home. There was no limit to the number of choices the clients could make. One respondent marked one vegetable and about five marked all the vegetables and fruits. The second question was open ended and asked what foods the clients would like to see more of in the pantry.

The survey was administered to the clients of the food pantry during October, 2017 as they awaited their turn to be serviced. As the clients generally attend the pantry once a month, duplicates were unlikely. It is unknown how many clients could not or would not complete the survey or why. The volunteers at the pantry were asked to participate in the survey, but none did so. The staff was not asked to participate.

Four hundred two responses were returned.

RESPONSES OF THE SURVEY IN NUMBERS

Acorn Squash = 64 Green Peppers = 329 82% Russet Potatoes = 30 76%
Beans = 204 50% Horseradish = 53 Spaghetti Squash = 86
Beets = 93 Kale = 166 Strawberries = 333 83%
Broccoli = 308 77% Leeks = 49 Sweet Potatoes = 313 78%
Butternut Squash = 82 Lettuce = 304 76% Tomatoes = 342 85%
Cabbage = 296 74% Malabar Spinach = 86 Tromboncino Squash = 21-70*
Cantaloupes = 254 63% Okra = 227 56% Turnips = 195
Chard = 38 Onions = 334 83% Yellow Straight-Necked Squash = 67
Collard Greens = 259 64% Pattypan Squash = 26 Watermelons = 332 83%
Cucumbers = 298 74%. Peanuts = 184 Zucchini = 183
Garlic = 232 58% Peas = 198
Grapes = 323 80% Radishes = 98

Tromboncino squash took up two lines due to space on the survey. A range was given for tromboncino squash as many clients circled the word “squash” and not “tromboncino squash”. 21 clients circled both words and 70 circled the word “squash”. It was uncertain if they meant squash in general or the specific one.

RESPONSES OF THE SURVEY’S OPEN ENDED QUESTION

Several aspects of the survey’s open ended questions displayed misunderstandings of the survey itself – or the fact that it came from a garden. It is not likely the garden can grow items such as badder pads, toilet paper, cheese, milk, butter, cereal, canned fruit and detergent! Because of climate considerations, the garden is unable to grow oranges, lime, bananas, and quinoa. There is a lack of space for an orchard. Thus requests for apples, plums, peaches, prunes, and walnuts cannot be considered. There is also lack of space to grow corn. Carrots and blueberries do not grow well in our clay soil.

Discussion of the viable responses of the open ended survey is given later in this report.

DISCUSSION OF THE RESPONSES

It is obvious from the responses that foods generally considered familiar, cooked and eaten by most people, were the ones preferred most. They include in descending order from most often to least often chosen: Tomatoes, strawberries, watermelons, onions, garlic, green peppers, grapes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, russet potatoes and lettuce.

Also frequently chosen were the following items: cucumbers, cabbage, okra, collard greens, cantaloupes, and beans. Least likely to be chosen were chard, leeks, any of the squashes, and horseradish.

The difficulty interpreting the tromboncino squash responses was discussed in the last section. It was a new product introduced to the food pantry this year. The squash was offered because it was easy to grow without problems most squashes have, but it may have been a “hard sell” at the pantry because of it’s unusual color and shape. Malabar spinach, not a true spinach, but easy to grow and quite nutritional, was also a new introduction to the food pantry.

Leeks and chard received an unusually low response. Leeks are grown in modestly large numbers in the garden due to the Chinese volunteers who work there. (Leeks are popular in China and Mexico.) Chard is also grown in modestly large numbers and was thought to be well received.

There was one item inadvertently left out of the foods grown in the garden: eggplant. Yet not one open ended response indicated a request for eggplant.

RESPONSE OF THE FOOD PANTRY

Judy Berkowitz, CEO of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, reflected on the survey results. She felt that the number who responded, 402, was a good number of people and agreed with this writer that conclusions could be drawn from it. She notes that the choices indicated that, “When food pantry guests are able to receive these incredibly delicious, nutritious and fresh products at the pantry, they save money by not having to buy them at the grocery store. Or, they may not be able to buy them at all.”

“We never need to throw way any produce from the Garden of Eden. It is always taken by our guests. Nothing goes to waste and all of it is appreciated.”

Regarding eggplant, Berkowitz said, ”This is also a hard sell although people who like it and know how to use it often take a lot of it”. She added, “Anecdotally, I can tell you from shopping with pantry guests that many people have not eaten some forms of squash and they do not know how to cook it. We try to educate them during the shopping process and encourage them to try something new.”

RESPONSE OF THE GARDEN

The need for freshly grown organic food is great and the garden is not large. It also lacks an orchard. It is not the intention of the garden to supply all the needs of the food pantry; only to supplement what is donated there.

In the future emphasis will be placed on growing the most requested items, but some of the items require much growing space (watermelons, cantaloupes). It was just as well that squash was not often chosen. Squash is particularly hard to grow for various reasons and the number of squash grown may be reduced.

Based on the open ended question of what the clients would like to see more of, the garden has never grown but would be willing to consider growing mustard greens, green tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and mushrooms.

Some of the less chosen items on the list will still be grown though perhaps in fewer quantities. They grow reasonably well in our garden and do not require an inordinate amount of space. These items include kale, chard, beets, turnips and turnip greens, and radishes.

The Garden of Eden wishes to express great appreciation to the clients of the food pantry for their assistance in the survey. Particular thanks is directed towards Judy Berkowitz, CEO of the food pantry, for her assistance and guidance. Thanks also goes to the food pantry for the reams of paper it took to conduct the survey. In addition, this author wishes to acknowledge and thank the unknown clients of the pantry who took time to write thanks to the garden for its efforts.

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