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Plant A Row For the Hungry

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
by PAR_Gardener on April 23, 2005 08:21 AM
Hey all!

Weezie asked me to post some information about Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR), so that's what I'm doing. I'd love to hear about anyone elses experience with PAR too.

Most veggie gardeners produce more than they know what to do with (I've got to learn how to can, freeze and preserve.) That's when we start giving our spare produce away to friends, family, co-workers and strangers. With this excess in mind, PAR was started by the Garden Writers Association. For more information see Garden Writers Association/PAR.

The concept of PAR is to reserve a row from your veggie garden to donate to a local food pantry. I started PAR in our garden club back in 2000. We get community garden plots donated to us from the park district, and we plant over 8 plots with an assortment of fruits and veggies. I've got seedlings in my basement that are slated for our PAR efforts. Most of the produce that we grow at the community plots gets donated to our local food pantry. Last year we donated over 2000 lbs of fresh produce.

You don't have to do what we did as a group. Many donations are made be individual gardners like us [grin] . All you have to do is locate a local food pantry, soup kitchen or the like, find out when they accept donations, and drop off your extras. I'll dig up some green onions for the pantry this weekend. I'll donate extra apples from my apple tree in the fall. That's all there is to it.

Since we are working on a slightly larger scale, we have discovered that some items are received better than others. For example, swiss chard produced like gang busters in our plots, but no one knew what to do with them, so they were rarely taken. We've scaled back on the tomatoes a bit becuase everyone has spare tomatoes by July and August. Cherry tomatoes taste great, but they take too long to pick. We've kind of given up on peas because the amount of effort required for what we got just didn't make it worth it.

Crops that keep producing like broccoli are great. Eggplant is also a crop that has produced well for us, and is very popular at the pantry. As any home gardener knows, if you have a few squash or zucchini plants, you'll have plenty to give away. We always grow several plantings of beans.

Growing for your region or demographic also helps. Our pantry serves a large Hispanic population, so we grew hot peppers and tomitillos instead of the swiss chard. Another example that I can think of is collard greens in the South. Personally, I wouldn't know what to do with collard greens, but hear they are a staple in the South.

We are always experimenting with new crops to see how well they will perform in our PAR plots, and to see how well they are received at the pantry.

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Composting is more than good for your garden. It's a way of life.
by Jiffymouse on April 23, 2005 05:27 PM
excellent suggestion... we had a topic a while back on what to do with the excess... some of the answers included:
  • soup kitchen
  • food pantry
  • nursing homes
  • dr. offices
  • the folks who get meals on wheels

giving back is what it is all about... much better than waste...
by noneofyourbusiness on April 24, 2005 08:33 AM
That's a darn good idea!! I'm going to look into that!!
by Fernie on April 26, 2005 02:07 AM
I used to work for a statewide foodbank (I was the northern manager of a 3 warehouse foodbank warehouse system) that is affiliated with America's Second Harvest. We did a big push every year around this time for Plant a Row. We gave away seeds to people who called in and pledged a row and we also provided the volunteers to pick those rows. If you have a local 2nd Harvest Food Bank, give them a call and see how their plant a row project works. Most local food pantries are also very happy to get most kinds of fresh produce. Glad to see this subject here.

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 - GO DAWGS!  -
by SN on April 26, 2005 02:18 AM
This is an awesome thought!

Dick York was such a wonderful human being, getting behind Second Harvest, even in his declining health. We all need to care about other people in such ways.


And Fernie, the more I know you, the more I adore you...


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Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony... ~Mahatma Gandhi

Rocking through the night
All is silent...Southern Cross

by weezie13 on April 26, 2005 02:41 AM
Oh, me too, me too!!!
I'm very glad you posted [critic] this PAR_Gardener!!!!
THANK~YOU [Cool] THANK~YOU [kissies] THANK~YOU [thumb] THANK~YOU [kissies] !!!

I don't know how I missed this post.... [perplexed]

Anyhow... Thanks for all the info...
I will have to see if they except fresh stuff here..
I was under the impression they only wanted non~perishable items...
(*That's what they ask for from the Boyscouts when we do a food drive for them..*)
And the Meals~on~Wheels food comes from a local rehabilation center and all the food there has to be brought in and maintained at a certain temp. and has certain guidelines and rules they must adhere to...

But I will ask them...

I think it is such a neat idea..

We always have extra and we give alot to the M~o~W's recipients or the one's who volunteer to deliver it...It was a crappy year last year here for vegetables too, so wet and over cast...

I will have to go to that site you posted and have a very good read...
*Wish I could take the computer to bed with me,
I love to curl up with a good book to read [teacher] [critic] *


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Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2


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