Minnesota Green Profile: The Open Door Pantry

The Open Door, a nonprofit hunger relief organization, is working hard to eradicate hunger in Dakota County. Its Garden to Table program is a participant in Minnesota Green and just celebrated its 11th growing season.

It is a shining example of successfully pivoting and coming through for the community during a pandemic. Garden to Table is a sustainable approach to eliminate hunger and promote improved access to fresh garden produce for families in need of food support through both adoptable garden plots and giving gardens, through which churches, schools and businesses donate fresh garden produce for Open Door Pantry.

an open door pantry garden

Thomas Hansen’s garden at the Open Door Community Garden

In 2020, Open Door pivoted from its normal in-person food distributions to large drive-through distributions that kept both volunteers and clients safe during the pandemic. Its 11 community garden sites were used by 709 clients to produce 15,000 pounds of food. The group also received donations from giving gardens for over 34,000 pounds of food. All of this was powered by many volunteers who donated over 26,595 hours in 2020.

Garden to Table is a free program open to anyone in Dakota County struggling to afford healthy food. The program offers free plants, seeds, access to tools, water, mulch, a master gardener to answer questions and free classes on gardening, seasonal eating and food preservation.

If you grow food and would like to donate or volunteer go to the Open Door Pantry website or contact Alpa Goswami, the garden to table manager.

What People Say about Open Door

“My biggest takeaway is when you grow something yourself it tastes better than anything you can buy in a grocery store.” —Thomas Hansen, Garden to Table gardener, herbalist and artist

“My biggest accomplishment as a master gardener is learning about The Open Door and becoming so involved in it. It has become my number one project. I am more excited about being involved with The Open Door than any other volunteering that I might still be involved in.” —Shelley DeBord, Dakota County master gardener and Garden to Table volunteer

“Even though we have food insecurity, and it is increasing, it doesn’t have to be. We can choose to create a community in a different way, so everyone has an abundant supply of food. We just have to look at how our systems are set up and be courageous enough to change them so that we can all enjoy an abundant, healthy diet.” —Vicki, Garden to Table volunteer gardener

Leave a Comment