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Maine: Johnny's Seeds feeding a Food Pantry

  • Subject: [cg] Maine: Johnny's Seeds feeding a Food Pantry
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 10:33:35 EDT

Community Food Pantry Garden Continues
Submitted ByJeanne Hollingsworth

(April 14): Johnnyâs Selected Seeds Helps Make Food Panty Garden a Reality

Rob Johnston and his company, Johnnyâs Selected Seeds, give 10% of their profits to non-profit organizations promoting gardening. The Garden Institute was recently a beneficiary of this generosity with the donation of over $400 worth of seeds to use in their second annual Food Pantry Garden. Board Members are now moving ahead with planning the actual garden, and they have high hopes that this generous donation will mean that they can produce even more fresh food for the areaâs poor and elderly.

The concept behind the Food Pantry Garden is to re-introduce fresh and healthy vegetables into the mix of food generously donated by local grocers and suppliers, and to help make the best of a diet limited by chance. According to volunteers who distribute the food, recipients are not used to seeing fresh lettuce and other perishables in their weekly food packages, and the donations were a wonderful surprise. Garden volunteers say the grateful response of the recipients reinforced their commitment to this yearâs project, and they see the donation from Johnnyâs as a promising beginning encouraging a renewed effort to help feed everyone who needs their help.

With this yearâs generous supply of seeds the Institute can expand their gardens and use even more of the land they have preserved for just this kind of project. âThe continued use of our gardens - by the community for the community - is exactly what The Institute wants to accomplishâ, said Jeanne Hollingsworth, Board Coordinator of the Community Food Pantry Garden for the upcoming season. She added, âThis gardening program is taking place in what many would consider an urban environment. The Board firmly believes that once area residents visit the property they will realize the potential of this âDowntown Sanctuaryâ, and will appreciate the importance of keeping it forever open space.â

According to Rob Lovell, President and Volunteer Coordinator, volunteers are needed at every stage of this project. He noted that Garden Institute project-commitment levels are designed so they âdonât scare folks away. The Food Pantry projectâs success will depend entirely on the appearance of helping hands just when we need them most. If someone can come once or twice a summer to plant or weed or harvest, weâll take them and be happy to have their help. However, if someone would like to take on more of a commitment, we sure wonât turn them away!â

Those who would like to help with planning the actual layout of the several gardens met at The Instituteâs greenhouses during March. Volunteers are now starting and taking care of the seedlings that grown from the seeds that Johnnyâs sent. According to Rob and Jeanne, anyone from experienced gardener to novice is welcome to participate. Although Board members will be pleased to share their gardening experience, everyone involved is eager to learn from each other as well. Jeanne added: âOne of the most rewarding things that has happened recently is that children of long-time organic-gardeners are coming forward to offer their help. This is a generation that has grown up with sustainability central to their lives, and they have a great deal of practical experience to share. Young parents are bringing their children to this place where they will work together to grow healthy food not only for themselves, but for their neighbors as well.â She and Rob both agreed that growing food for neighbors in need is a tradition that The Institute is determined to preserve.

Although the gardens are not certified âorganicâ, those practices are followed. This summer volunteers can experiment with various components of sustainable agriculture such as companion planting and inter-cropping as well as testing a variety of cover crops.

Join Jeanne at the Institute's Greenhouses on Thursdays at 11:00 - bring a lunch and enjoy the company of gardeners working on a fine Community project. Or come by on Saturday mornings after 9 and see what other projects are underway that may grab your interest

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