Winter Rest Involves Gardening Books and Plans for Plant a Row for the Hungry

| 2/8/2010 12:11:15 PM

CindyMurphyBlog.jpgIn winter, when many gardeners are planning, ordering from seed catalogs, and dreaming of spring and the day they can get out there and dig, I’m just thrilled to see that the dirt stains are finally gone from beneath my fingernails and hands. I work all day helping customers plan their gardens, choose their plants, answer their questions, and then come home and tend my own gardens. When the nursery closes for the season, and the plants are resting, it’s my time to rest too. I am not a garden planner, plotter, or hatcher of good ideas during these cold months. I couldn’t enjoy winter to its fullest if I was busy planning for the next season. But still….I can’t really forget about gardening entirely for a whole season. I get my fix by catching up on garden-related reading, and by attending seminars and lectures on the topic. 

Plant a Row for the HungryIf you are one of those who plan ahead (I’m breaking my no-planning habit for this one), why not plan for a little extra and "Plant a Row for the Hungry"? The Plant a Row for the Hungry initiative is a nationwide campaign to provide fresh, healthy produce to those in need. The premise of PAR is simple: plant an extra row of vegetables and donate the harvest to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Since 1995, over 14 million pounds of produce have been grown, providing over 50 million meals donated by American gardeners. 

Due to the economic situation in this country, a rapidly increasing number of Americans are turning to food banks for hunger relief. Reports show an unprecedented number of them are middle-class families and first time visitors. Alarmingly, many of them are turned away because there is a lack of available resources. Billy Shore, the founder and executive director of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end childhood hunger in America says, “Relief groups are getting hit hard by the same economic factors affecting those they serve. In these tough times, they need support from caring, everyday Americans more than ever." 

When learning about PAR, I got excited and started making phone calls. Through the help of a local social service agency, I was led to a church in town that serves “Open Door” dinners to anyone in need of a hot meal. Every Tuesday night, they provide a sit-down meal to between 80 and 100 people and prepare about 120 take-out meals. Speaking with the pastor, he said they’ve seen an influx of people served in the past year, and would be delighted to have donations of produce. Any surplus will go to the local food pantry. I’ve got gardeners and a small farm more than willing to commit space and time to growing vegetables for the program. Because the produce will go toward providing that many meals at one time, we will be concentrating on one vegetable this first year: green beans. They’re easy to grow, produce a lot for a long period of time and have a longer storage-life than many other vegetables. My next step is to get the word out via our local newspaper and the Master Gardener newsletter to rally more participants. I have high hopes, and will keep you posted throughout the growing season on how the program is going.

If you’re interested in starting a Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign in your area, check out the Garden Writers Association’s website. They offer tips on getting started, support and printable brochure downloads. 

I read about PAR in a letter from the editor of GreenPrints “The Weeder’s Digest”. I ordered this unique gardening magazine as a Christmas gift to myself. The “greatest story” edition arrived a couple of weeks before Christmas. I would have promptly read it, but Shelby knew it was my gift to myself, snatched it out of my hands and wrapped it to put under the tree, telling me I had to wait until Christmas like everybody else. Drat! Sometimes what we teach them backfires. Luckily for me, the winter issue came shortly after, and I’d sneak some reading time while no one was looking. 

Cindy Murphy
2/20/2010 7:47:41 PM

Hi, Susan. Good luck on your garden! I bet you'll find it more enjoyable as an adult than you did as a teen. My teenage daughter hates weeding just like you did; she never really got into gardening when she was younger either, (except for playing in the mud). My younger daughter though, loves to help me in the garden any way she can...even if it's pulling up plants that belong there instead of the weeds that don't. Thanks for your comments. Enjoy the day.

Oz Girl
2/20/2010 3:32:39 PM

Cindy, wow, so much info crammed into your post here! I really like the philosophy of PAR and I hope I can contribute to that great effort someday... in the meantime, I will try to cultivate my green thumb on this, my first season of gardening! A very small garden to start, to get my feet wet. I don't think that gardening in my teens, er, forced gardening by my parents (get out there and do some weeding in that garden!) counts as gardening experience. In fact, I remember those days with dread, sweating my arse off in the hot sun pulling weeds by hand between the rows of plants. The Weeder's Digest and Farm City both sound like some lovely reading, so I'll be sure to check those out. Thanks for such a great, informative post! :) Susan

Cindy Murphy
2/16/2010 10:52:57 AM

Oh! Have a great time, Dave - and stay safe, stay cool, wear lots of sun-screen, and drink plenty of bottled water, and since I'm at it with the Mom-thing - don't forget to look both ways before you cross the street. Congrats on the blog! You're right; it's about time - I've always wondered why you don't write one. I'll be looking forward to reading your adventures. Meantime, have a wonderful trip!

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters