Plant An Extra Row In The Garden To Help Feed The Hungry

A fruit and vegetable patch is usually a very well thought out space; gardeners devote a lot of attention to what plants they will grow, how many they will need, and the amount of space required to grow them. This season, consider adding an extra row to the garden; the harvest can be shared with those who need it most!

The Plant a Row – Grow a Row movement has swept across many North American communities. It is based on the tradition of gardeners loving to share their harvests with people.

Often, extra tomatoes and zucchinis go to friends and family. That’s wonderful too, but the idea behind this campaign is to donate a row of the garden to soup kitchens and food banks.

Back In The ’80s

It all began in Winnipeg, Canada in 1986, when Ron and Eunice O’Donovan grew more potatoes than their family could eat. They donated the extras to the local food bank, Winnipeg Harvest. Their good deed caught on throughout the community, and since then, Winnipeg Harvest has collected more than 1.4 million pounds of fresh produce through the Grow a Row movement!

Grow a Row donates to Harvest Garden, local food bank
Harvest Garden

It’s Catching On

Communities in many Canadian provinces have followed suit. In a suburb of Montreal, Canada, for example, the Garden at Fritz teaches youth how to grow organic edible crops and donates all of it to local charities and food banks.

In 1995, Plant a Row for the Hungry launched in the United States. The concept is the same, and to date, American gardeners have donated 80 million meals to the food insecure.

Too Much Hunger

Imagine going without food for an entire day? For many people, that’s a reality. The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that 1 in 8 households doesn’t have enough to eat.  There are 33 million people, including 13 million children who cannot afford the food they need to be healthy. Many of them are turned away from food banks because their shelves are also bare.

That’s especially true in the summertime at many North American food banks. Many organizations see the donations roll in over the holidays but come the summer months, generosity dips.

According to Garden Communications International, 84 million U.S. households have their own yards and grow at least some food. With the resurgence of modern-day victory gardens, the movements mentioned above are so simple!

If you’re already tending several rows of fruits and vegetables, what’s one more?

To enlist your community and start a campaign, visit the movement’s website (Plant a Row – Share a Row in Canada, and Plant a Row for the Hungry in the U.S.).   

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Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.