Is your garden’s bounty overflowing?
Donate Your Excess to Others in Need
By the end of the season are your tomato plants groaning with loaded down branches of ripe fruit? Do your neighbors pretend their not home when you come over with yet another bag of zucchini? Looking for a place to donate your garden’s bounty?
Plant A Row for the Hungry (PAR) is one answer. The concept is simple. There are over 70 million gardeners in the U.S. alone, many of whom plant vegetables and harvest more than they can possibly consume. If every gardener plants one extra row of vegetables and donates their surplus to local food banks and soup kitchens, a significant impact can be made on reducing hunger. Food agencies will have access to fresh produce, funds earmarked for produce can be redirected to other needed items and the hungry of America will have more and better food than is presently available.
One in ten households in the United States experiences hunger, according to the U.S, Department of Agriculture. With the recent hurricane disasters, those extra fruits and vegetables from your backyard garden are needed now more than ever.
“Local help trickles down,” says garden writer and PAR spokesman Jeff Lowenfels. “By taking pressure off an already burdened local food system, we make more resources available all the way down to New Orleans and the gulf region. PAR donations now really do mean acting locally and impacting globally.”
Lowenfels began PAR in his local Alaska garden column, when he asked gardeners to plant a row of vegetables for Bean’s Cafe, an Anchorage soup kitchen. Since then, PAR has grown exponentially through continued media support, individual and company sponsorship, and volunteerism.
PAR does all of this without government bureaucracy and red tape -- just one gardener at a time helping their neighbors.
Carol Ledbetter, PAR coordinator at the Garden Writers Association, says, “Donating your excess produce is particularly important now. Because of the calamities caused by the hurricanes, food is being redirected south to aid with disaster relief as well as pulling away the volunteer personnel. This puts a great strain on local area food banks so local gardeners’ donations are urgently needed. This is directly helping in our own neighborhoods.” Part of Ledbetter’s mission is to direct gardeners trying to find out where to donate their excess and also working with anyone wishing to start a PAR program in their local area. She can be reached at PAR@gardenwriters.org or 877.492.2727 (toll-free).
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