Garden Diary - October 2018

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Fresh Food for Food Banks

Monday, 22 October 2018

Do you support your local food bank? It's kind of easy when the local grocery story has a drop-off bin for non-perishable food like canned goods, boxed pasta, plastic jars of rice, and so on. It's fresh produce that is difficult to manage. And scarce.

In a recent entry I mentioned how some members of the Tohickon Garden Club went apple picking at Snyder Research Farm of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station two and a half weeks ago.

In 1995 the Garden Writer's Association started PAR, (plant a row for the hungry.) The idea - if you have a vegetable garden, plant an extra row and donated the produce. It took five years to reach the first million pounds of donated produce. The next million was reached in only 2 years, and in the next 10 years, more than a million pounds of food was donated each year. Since 2011, nearly 2 million pounds of food has been donated each year. This is a significant contribution considering that each pound of produce can supplement 4 meals.

Today I saw something equally inspiring.

America's Grow-a-Row is on Pittstown Road, in Pittstown, New Jersey. They
do have an orchard with peach and apple trees. They also have crop fields.

And today there was a large group of non-farm worker looking people
gleaning in a field. Of course, me being me, I made a U-turn, pulled over,
got out of my car and started taking pictures. And asking questions.

They are volunteers. And today they're harvesting sweet potatoes.

Lots of sweet potatoes, if you look at this one-of-several Kraft bulk bins.

Throughout the season (mid-July through October) Grow-a-Row delivers produce every other week to food desert areas (areas where people lack access to healthy, fresh, affordable produce) in Newark, Jersey City, East Orange, Camden, Morristown, and eastern Pennsylvania to set up a Free Farm Market. There is another farm in Milford, Longmeadow Farm in Hope, and Riamede Farm in Chester, all in New Jersey. They do this with the help of volunteers from companies such as 3M, Ethicon, ExxonMobil, AT&T, Johnson and Johnson, banks, churches, schools, boy scouts, girl scouts, and more. In 2017, with the help of 9,000 volunteers they harvested 1.5 million pounds of produce.

What a good thing for all involved - growers, gleaners, and recipients alike.

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