With the stay-at-home orders issued at the beginning of last spring, Burkart saw that it was obviously time to ramp up local production.
“Last year, I planted all of my seeds, because I’m a seed hoarder,” Burkart said as she chuckled over the phone.
She started out by delivering seedlings to doors, since many people did not want to leave their houses.
Cambridge City Growers, a project that spawned out of the pandemic lock-downs, took 72 seedlings from Burkart and used them as part of their Food For Free project.
Burkart went to the Trinity Baptist Church in Arlington, which she said usually grew tomatoes, and gave them 150 of her tomato plants. Upon receiving the tomato plants, the church began plowing their field and putting the plants in the ground.
“Arlington has a lot of hidden poverty, and they don’t qualify for some subsidized programs,” Burkart said. “The overwhelming wealth in the community means they cannot get resources to those who need them the most.”
Some food pantries did not want to take fresh produce because of concerns around spreading COVID-contaminated produce, said Burkart, but she cited the recently passed Good Samaritan Act, which absolves donors of food of any liability if the donations were made with good intentions.
She also noted the efforts of groups like Boston Area Gleaners, who enter farms to pick any produce that does not meet market-quality standards, and send their pickings to local food pantries in the region.
“There are all sorts of great projects, but they are small and isolated. I had been working with these organizations before to see how we could expand.”
As gardeners across the state prepare for the spring, Burkart too has been preparing. This year, having had some time to plan, as opposed to last year’s frenzy, Burkart plans to take the funds from selling her produce to buy seeds wholesale to help expand the operation she started four years ago.