The Growing Community Project
Growing and Sharing to Fight Hunger
Did you know that before COVID-19 hit our region, one out of four families in Santa Barbara County struggled to put enough food on the table? Now, as the pandemic cripples the economy, it’s gotten worse. Responding to this crisis, the Bucket Brigade has launched its most ambitious humanitarian effort to date. It’s called the Growing Community Project.
Through education, crowdsourcing, and safe deployment, this feeding project empowers volunteers to grow healthy produce and donate it to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and other charitable organizations dedicated to improving the nutrition of hungry families.
We need your help to support this groundbreaking program! Please consider making a donation today.
Here’s how the Growing Community Project works —
Sign up — this lets us know that our volunteers are committed to growing fresh produce and donating it to help fight widespread food insecurity.
Garden Assistance — We have free raised garden boxes built from clean recycled lumber for volunteers who need help setting up a garden. We deliver!
Once our new gardeners have grown enough veggies to fill a milk crate, they submit a request form, letting us know to deploy one of our volunteer drivers to pick it up. Or they can drop off their bounty at Bucket Brigade headquarters.
Some of our volunteers already have established gardens and want to start donating fresh produce right away. Great! They can drop it off at Bucket Brigade headquarters. Or they can sign up here for a touchless pickup, and we’ll deploy one of our trusted volunteer drivers to pick it up.
We understand that some volunteers don’t have the yard space to garden at home, but they still want to grow and donate fresh produce. For them, we offer a list of community gardens, where they can grow food and connect with their neighbors.
In September, we held our first volunteer day at Trinity Gardens, which has had an active humanitarian garden for 10 years. Twice a week through October and once a week through winter, our Growing Community volunteers are planting, watering, mulching, weeding, and harvesting. Check out our Volunteer Hub page for opportunities to get involved.
Garden Education — For guidance from experts, our volunteer gardeners can download the free “Vegetable Gardening Handbook for Beginners” on our website, and everybody is welcome to join our free Garden Wisdom Wednesdays webinar. This weekly educational event is co-hosted by volunteers with the UC Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County.
With more teams of volunteers at Bucket Brigade headquarters, we sort and weigh all the donated produce before delivering it to the Foodbank and other charitable feeding partners.
From there, all that fresh nutritious food is given to hungry families across Santa Barbara County!
To create this program, we’ve aligned with more than a dozen dedicated partners and sponsors: Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, UC Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County, Veggie Rescue, White Buffalo Land Trust, Elings Park Foundation, The Terrace Foundation, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara County Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division, Community Environmental Council, Trinity Gardens, and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.
UPDATE: MAKING MASKS, SAVING LIVES
Volunteer Makers Sew More Than 36,000 Masks
From its humble beginnings on an empty lot in the Oaks neighborhood, our Most Mask Maker project launched in April as we delivered free fabric and elastic to sewing team volunteers sheltering at home during the early days of the pandemic. Soon, thanks to the Montecito Association, we relocated our headquarters to the Montecito Library just as the number of at-home mask makers surpassed 250. At the same time, we recruited, trained, and deployed 50 volunteer drivers to deliver fabric, pick up newly made masks, and fulfill mask requests from critical service workers all across Santa Barbara County, from nurses and farmworks to eldercare facilities and homeless shelters. We always give out the masks for free. Make a request here.
Most Mask Makers by the Numbers
Volunteers Stepping Up for the Community
Public agencies & nonprofit care centers served countywide:
It takes a team — Since April, our sewing team has made more than 36,000 masks and our drivers have tallied 600 volunteer hours. Big buckets of thanks to all of them, plus our community sponsors: The Zegar Family Foundation, Montecito Association, Lee Heller, Village Service Station, Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners, Mission Linen Supply, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Powell-Peralta Skateboards, CARP Growers, City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation, Handlebar Coffee, Imagine Graphics, Jules by the Sea, Lito’s Mexican Restaurant, Rincon Brewery, Rusty’s Pizza, Spudnuts, Bree’osh Bakery Cafe, and Three Pickles Subs & Sandwiches!
Friends of the Friendship Center
Bucket Brigade Partnership Helps High-Risk Seniors
Once a month since March, we’ve partnered with Friendship Center Adult Day Services to help package and deliver food totes to high-risk seniors sheltering in place. Here’s how it works: Working outside in the shade, small groups of safely spaced volunteers fill large gift bags with an assortment of food — lots of nonperishables, plus treats — and personal-care items. By noon, all 120 totes are ready for delivery. That’s when our volunteer drivers show up. After they activate their shifts by pointing their smartphones at a QR-code touchless sign-in sheet, the totes are loaded into the backseat or trunk. They also get a printout of their optimized route, a box lunch donated by a local restaurant, and $15 worth of free unleaded from Village Service Station in Montecito. And off they go, spending the next couple hours delivering much-need items to community members who are riding out the pandemic at home with their families and caregivers. If you’d like to help at our next Friendship Center event, keep an eye out for updates at Volunteer Hub.
FACE SHIELD UPDATE
Since April, dozens of 3D-printer enthusiasts have been printing parts for PPE face shields, a project spearheaded by Bucket Brigade volunteer Marco Farrell. You need face shields? We got face shields — and they’re free! Don’t be shy about filling out this FACE SHIELD REQUEST FORM, and we’ll deliver them to your door.
PLEASE DONATE TODAY!
We need your help! After much success providing critical service workers with free masks and face shields, we have shifted our focus on our Growing Community Project to feed hungry families across Santa Barbara County. We can’t do this important work without your help! Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today!