UCEMGVA PLANT A ROW FOR THE HUNGRY REPORT – March 2013
SPRING PLANNING – SUMMER BOUNTY
The scenario is one we EMGs are all too familiar with. The day is overcast; the temperature is chilly and the vegetable seed catalogs are way too tempting. BUT, good and bad visions of last year’s harvest come to mind. There was an ample amount of vegetables to can and freeze and many fresh veggies for wonderful dinners; however, the family did groan when squash appeared yet again on the dinner table. And, come to think of it, the neighbors were suddenly not available when you headed to their house with another basketful of tomatoes, and unfortunately some veggies did go to waste. So the questions still linger. Should I or shouldn’t I plant that extra new variety of bean I’ve been wanting to try? What will I do with all my extra produce? Our UCEMGVA PLANT A ROW FOR THE HUNGRY program (PAR) is here to help.
What is Plant A Row and WHY should I help out? As difficult as it may be for most of us to imagine, for many in our community the lack of nourishing food is a daily issue. As illustration, a recent NC Budget & Tax Center US Census Analysis report indicates that 11.5% of our Union County children live in poverty. Plant A Row for the Hungry, formed almost 20 years ago, is a public service initiative created by the Garden Writers of America to encourage gardeners to make contributions of their excess produce to local soup kitchens and other food service organizations and to encourage gardeners to “plant a row” specifically with these needs in mind. Our PAR contributions are donated to 7 dedicated area agencies whose focus is to help our neighbors in need – Loaves & Fishes of Union County, Operation Reachout, Christian Family Care Home, Common Heart/Common Ground, Matthews HELP Center, Turning Point, & Union County Community Shelter.
Many of you may not have the space or conditions for vegetable gardening. Not to worry – we have the answer for that as well. Canned foods are always needed. Please think of PAR when your favorite grocery has those fantastic sales – 10 cans for $2. You may not need 10 cans but there are families who could use the extra. Visit the farmers markets? You have an opportunity to support our local growers by buying a little extra and donating it to PAR.
Thanks to everyone who has already participated in our 2013 Plant A Row efforts – we are off to a great start, even before our primary growing season! At our February Tree Sale, we collected over 125 lbs. of non-perishable food items for donation and at our last monthly meeting, we collected 50 lbs. – all of which was put to good use at the Loaves & Fishes pantries.
THANK YOU to those who have already agreed to donate to PAR, to take the produce to the agencies, or to serve in other capacities. Won’t YOU please join us and your fellow EMGs by participating in the PAR program? We look forward to your help!
--Brenda Merrefield, PAR Team
People Helping People:
Since 1995, American gardeners have donated over 14 million pounds of herbs and vegetables to feed the hungry in our local neighborhoods and communities.
Support Plant A Row and help make a difference in your community.
UCEMG Collected over 125 lbs. of donations at our
February 2013 Tree Sale!
A Brief History:
Plant A Row began in Anchorage, AK, in the garden column of Jeff Lowenfels, former Garden Writers Association president. He asked his readers to Plant A Row of vegetables for Bean’s Cafe, an Anchorage soup kitchen. The program was so successful, he introduced it to the Garden Writers Association as a national program. It took five years to reach the first million pounds of donated produce. The next million was reached in only 2 years, and in the next 10 years, more than a million pounds of food has been donated each year. This is a significant contribution considering that each pound of produce supplements 4 meals.
Since 1995, over 16 million pounds of produce providing over 60 million meals have been donated by American gardeners. All this has been achieved without government subsidy or bureaucratic red tape — just people helping people.
HOW CAN "YOU" HELP?
The 7 local agencies for "Plant a Row" can always use your donations! Whether it is *extra harvest from your own food garden, *food gardening of a friend, *farmers market, *canned goods, *the BOGO deal at the grocery store, *food you've purchased and now, with your busy schedule, might go to waste, *unused coupons that haven't expired .... They can ALL be used and are NEEDED!!
In 2002, GWA established a supporting 501(c)(3) charity called the Garden Writers Association Foundation to administer and expand the PAR program.