Basin’s Backyard Garden volunteers harvest and donate 71 lbs. of produce

Basin's Backyard Garden

Chris Gessele, Basin Electric staff writer and garden volunteer, hands off the 71 pounds of produce to Marie Wald, IDA case manager, food pantry coordinator and housing coordinator for Community Action Program Region VII.

This week may have officially marked the start of the fall season, but to many Basin’s Backyard Garden volunteers it’s still harvesting season.

On Thursday, garden volunteers harvested 71 pounds of produce. Today, garden volunteers Chris Gessele and Jean Schafer donated it to Community Action Program Region VII. Among the produce donated were tomatoes, peppers, corn, zucchini and even a pumpkin that grew through the fence!

And the garden’s not done producing yet. There’s still more tomatoes and pumpkins that will be ready to be picked soon. Stay tuned to find out where we’ll donate next!

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Eighty-eight lbs. of produce donated to soup kitchen from Basin’s Backyard Garden

Basin’s Backyard Garden volunteers harvested another 88 lbs. of produce today! Among the fresh veggies donated were tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, watermelon, kale, parsley, jalapeno peppers and corn. It was all dropped off at Heaven’s Helpers Soup Cafe, where we made our very first donation, earlier this season.

It’s becoming bittersweet as the harvesting season winds down. Stay tuned to find out about our last harvests of the season!

Deborah Levchak

Deborah Levchak, senior staff counsel and garden volunteer, had to break out her potato fork in order to harvest all the carrots in Basin’s Backyard Garden.

From Basin’s Backyard Garden to table: Shelly Kuntz

Shelly Kuntz

Basil from Basin’s Backyard Garden.

Shelly Kuntz

Shelly Kuntz, records coordinator III and Basin’s Backyard Garden volunteer.

How great would it be to cook with fresh basil throughout the year? Shelly Kuntz, records coordinator III and Basin’s Backyard Garden volunteer, has found a way. “I love cooking with basil, so I was excited to try this new way of freezing it with olive oil in ice cube trays. It’s quick and easy to do and now I just  drop a cube in when I’m cooking to have basil with my favorite Italian dish,” Kuntz says.

Try it for yourself. Here’s how:

1. First, fill the sink with cold water. Then, pull the leaves off the stems and put it in the water to rinse.  Next, put the leaves between paper towels to dry the leaves.

2. Finely chop up the basil. Then, measure a table spoon of basil to put in each cube. Next, fill each cube with olive oil.

3. Freeze for two days. Lastly, transfer the cubes over to baggie and store in the freezer.

Kuntz shared her very own chicken marsala recipe that would be great with basil.

1 ½ c. sweet marsala wine
2 Tbsp. butter
1.5 lbs. chicken breasts, sliced
2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
10 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ c. chicken stock
1 onion, diced
½ pint heavy cream
5 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil

Combine flour, 1 Tbsp. oregano, salt and pepper. Put olive oil in a pan and heat. Coat chicken in the flour mixture, add to heated oil and brown. Add oil as needed. Remove cooked chicken from the pan. Add butter and sauté onion and mushrooms. Add chicken stock to the pan along with garlic and the other Tbsp. oregano, let it simmer a few mins. so some of the liquid evaporates. Put chicken back in the pan, add the wine and simmer about ½ hour. Then add the cream, additional salt & pepper if needed and the parmesan cheese, cook another 20 mins. to let the cheese melt and flavors blend. If sauce is too runny add more cheese to help thicken. Serve over linguine.

Kuntz says she also uses this as her chicken alfedo recipe, minus the Marsala wine. “For the alfredo I usually add tomatoes and summer squash or zucchini as vegetables,” she says. “I hope everyone enjoys my recipe!”

Basin’s Backyard Garden volunteers donate 122 lbs. to food pantry

Basin's Backyard Garden

(back row from left to right): Tammy Langerud, staff writer/editor; Darlene Steffan, administrative assistant III; Sabrina Bear, network analyst I; and Sheila Renner, administrative assistant II. (front row from left to right): Chris Gessele, staff writer; and Bill Baer, network security analyst III.

Yesterday afternoon, garden volunteers weighed bag after bag of produce and were blown away by the number they saw on the scale. It read 122 lbs.! Beans, kale, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes and corn all helped make up the largest single donation from Basin’s Backyard Garden to date. Garden volunteer, Sheila Renner, also added some tomatoes from her own garden to the mix.

The produce was then dropped off at the Bismarck Emergency Food Pantry. A recent article in the Bismarck Tribune highlighted the food pantry’s need for donations to feed the area’s hungry. It’s why garden volunteers thought donating there would be a good fit.

Bismarck Emergency Food Pantry volunteer, Bobbi Mitzel, was very appreciative and ecstatic when receiving the donation, she even gave the garden volunteers hugs!

Basin's Backyard Garden

Tammy Langerud (left) and Bobbi Mitzel (right) hold up some zucchini and corn from Basin’s Backyard Garden.

Basin's Backyard Garden

Tammy Langerud (left) and Bill Baer (right) try not to get lost in the corn as they gather some to donate.

Tomatoes help fill produce table at Bismarck Senior Center

Colette Barth, Bismarck Senior Center site manager, shows off Basin's Backyard Garden tomatoes.

Colette Barth, Bismarck Senior Center site manager, shows off Basin’s Backyard Garden tomatoes.

Gardeners can drop off fresh produce at the Bismarck Senior Center, and it’s placed on a table for the taking. By noon today, everything was spoken for except some apples.

Basin’s Backyard Garden added to the variety with tomatoes. Volunteer Tracie Bettenhausen dropped six pounds of tomatoes off, some that Bill Baer had picked yesterday, and some from her home garden.

Colette Barth, Bismarck Senior Center site manager, says the ripe fruits and veggies are “very much appreciated.”