Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plant A Row for the Hungry provides support to local gardeners working to end hunger

Second Harvest Food Bank is committed to providing foods that nourish to those in need. Fruits and vegetables fresh from the garden can have a profound impact on the health and well-being of our clients. If you are a gardener or produce more fruit than you and your family can eat, please familiarize yourself with our Backyard Donations page.

We would like to introduce you to the Plant A Row for the Hungry program, which although run outside the Food Bank, can provide support and a network of like-minded supporters to engage with. In addition, the local committees set up special harvest donation sites and coordinate delivery.

The program has been around since 1994, when Jeff Lowenfels, a garden columnist from Anchorage, Alaska, pitched the idea to the Garden Writers of America Association. He had been trying the idea out with moderate success for a few years in his hometown, but thought it was time for a national movement.

A few years later, Joan Jackson, garden columnist at the San Jose Mercury News at the time, got involved and really championed the cause. She encouraged local gardeners to sign a pledge to grow and donate fresh produce. Within the first year, readers had donated over 34,000 pounds of fruit, vegetables and herbs through the program.

According to Jackson, the program works so well because it’s “carried out in a way that requires no governmental funds and no big cuts or donations from businesses or organizations.” In essence, anyone with access to a plot of dirt can participate.

The Garden Writers Association has many resources available to encourage success. See the links below to find local campaigns or learn more about setting up a new Plant A Row campaign.
We lost our backyard produce Champion when Joan Jackson retired from the Mercury News, and will be relying on the local gardening community to spread the word. If you are passionate about ending hunger, gardening, and making a difference in your local community, please consider speaking out about the cause through your blog, social networks, gardening club or place or worship, etc. If you are interested in participating but don’t have a garden, the American Community Garden Association is a resource that can help you get your hands in the dirt.

Do you Flickr? Join Our New Flickr Group! We just set up a group for photos of your Edible Gardens! Please join and post your inspiring photos:
Fruit and Vegetable Gardens of the Bay Area