I want to point you to a piece I wrote for Edible Jersey magazine on volunteering within the food systems in my state. I was struck by a word: Two of the people I interviewed for the piece used the word “lifeblood” to describe the importance of volunteers to their organizations. Both the Food Bank of South Jersey and America’s Grow A Row, an organization that farms specifically to donate to those who need it, said they couldn’t do what they do without the help of volunteers.

During the summer and fall growing and harvesting months, the need for volunteers within sustainable food systems is at its greatest. If you have a few hours to donate to a worthy farm, farmers market, food bank, winery, or other food system, take a look at what’s available in your area.

Last summer, my boys and I volunteered at the food bank — the boys were 9 and 11 at the time. We helped get food to those in need, and we learned something about the needs of people in our seemingly affluent region. Volunteering is a wonderful way to spend a few summer vacation hours.

Read on for the first paragraph of my Edible Jersey piece, and click through the link to read the entire article.

In the fall of 2010, Slow Food USA sponsored Dig In!, a day to support local food systems by volunteering within them. I wrote about it because that’s what I do. I write about all things related to sustainable food. It hadn’t occurred to me to actually go out and get my hands dirty, though.

Click through to Edible Jersey to read the full article.

Edible Jersey is part of Edible Communities, the 2011 James Beard Award winner for Publication of the Year.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of sustainable food systems
Food banks, farmers markets, wineries, farms and other organizations rely on volunteers to help them get good food to people who need it.