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Iowa: A Botanical Garden is Planting A Row For the Hungry - And Your Garden?

  • Subject: [cg] Iowa: A Botanical Garden is Planting A Row For the Hungry - And Your Garden?
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Sat, 26 Jun 2004 10:29:44 EDT


Here's a piece on the "Planting a Row for the Hungry" in a botanical garden, of all places.  Have you all set up your row for the hungry this year?

Adam Honigman
Clinton Community Garden

Gardening for the greater good

By: MIchelle Gee, Staff Writer June 26, 2004

Reiman Gardens is taking part in Plant a Row for the Hungry
Reiman Gardens will soon be sharing more than flowers with the city of Ames.
The gardens will be part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry program and will collect excess produce and donate it to local homeless shelters and food banks around the Ames area.
      Plant a Row for the Hungry began in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1994. It's a now nationwide program that has spread to 30 U.S. states and three Canadian providences.
      Joy Middleton, the student intern overseeing the program at Reiman Gardens, is excited to see the gardens involved in the cause of feeding the hungry.
      Middleton said planning for the program began around April 15 and she became involved this summer after beginning her internship. She is now managing the program with the help of Linda Naeve, the extension coordinator at Reiman Gardens.
Interning for the hungry
      Reiman Gardens currently has 10 interns working 14-week internships. Each intern must head a different project while they are there, but Middleton is hoping many of them will volunteer their time to the program for the hungry.
      Dustin Paulson, also an intern, is in charge of harvesting produce. He and Middleton both agree the program will be a major part of their learning experience at Reiman Gardens.
      "I won't be surprised if people are still coming in after their internship is over," Paulson said.                                    
      Middleton, along with the other summer interns, will do the planting and harvesting of the vegetables. They will donate all their produce, along with what is brought in by Story County and area residents, to local food pantries throughout the area.
      "We encourage everyone to plant extra produce where they live and bring that in," Middleton said.
      Even though the program will rely heavily on donations, the interns will make their own contribution.
      "Here at the gardens we're actually planting vegetables in our Town and Country Garden," Middleton said. "Those were planted at the end of May."     
      In addition to donations, Middleton said volunteers will be key to the program's success.
      "The volunteers will be washing and sorting the produce, recording what people bring, sorting produce and loading it onto a truck for distribution," Middleton said. "We will also weigh produce to keep record of how many pounds we collected at Reiman Gardens. Once collected we will send it up to the national level of the program."
      Middleton said the records will be helpful for future years, and those who contribute are encouraged to stop in and see the progress.
      "There will be a meter kept inside the building that will contain the amounts being collected and it will be updated weekly," she said.
Community groups
are involved
      Because the program relies so heavily on community support, many Ames organizations have gotten involved. Partners working with the program include Reiman Gardens, Ames Garden Club, Story County Master Gardeners, Bethesda Food Pantry, Mid-Iowa Community Action, Ames Community Food Pantry, ACCESS Shelter and the Ames Parks and Recreation Department.
      Darlene Hade is the volunteer in charge of the program at Bethesda Food Pantry. She is eager to have an additional way to bring fresh food to her clients.
      "My husband and I purchase all the food for the Bethesda Food Pantry and (Reiman Gardens) contacted us," Hade said.
      The pantry, which serves more than 300 clients a month, is always short on fresh produce.
      Hade said the pantry belongs to a co-op through the church and different producers grow products and bring in extra produce if they have it, but with so many people coming in, the food goes fast.
      "As far as produce goes, we have not been able to purchase any yet," Hade said.
      The pantry receives a lot of its food from the Food Bank of Iowa and other stores in town, but Hade is optimistic that the Plant a Row for the Hungry donations will be one more way for her to supply those in need.
      Middleton is appreciative that so many groups have provided support. She has been doing what she can to raise more community awareness about the project.
      "We sent letters to surrounding churches to put in their bulletins to get the word out," Middleton said.
      Nationally, the program is sponsored by HGTV, Scott's Co., and many others that are distributing information kits and spreading the word so a greater number of organizations can be involved.
      Middleton and Naeve were also guests on WOI-Radio in an effort to advertise the program.
      "At Reiman Gardens we have a home vegetable garden," Naeve said in the broadcast. "And the most common question we have is what do you do with the produce you harvest?"
      Naeve said occasionally they brought in the produce for their student laborers, but the students didn't take it all because a lot of them don't eat vegetables. That's when she decided there had to be a better way to get rid it.
       Naeve found out about Plant a Row for the Hungry through the Garden Writer's Association of America.
      She and Middleton share high hopes for the program.
      "I hope that the program is a success and that the Ames community can benefit from the program in some way," Middleton said.

What you can do to help

¨ Plant an extra row.
¨ Donate excess
¨ Volunteer your time.
¨ Offer financial support for the Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign and local food pantries.

What to bring

¨ tomatoes
¨ cabbage
¨ peas
¨ potatoes
¨ broccoli
¨ carrots
¨ beets
¨ fruits
¨ eggplant
¨ onions
¨ peppers
¨ green beans
¨ summer squash

Where to bring it

      Reiman Gardens will accept clean fruits and vegetables at the Maintenance Building in the Reiman Gardens parking lot from 7 to 8:30 a.m. every Monday, beginning June 28. The program will run through the end of September, with the exception of Monday, July 5.
      For more information, contact Joy Middleton at 294-8953. A 20-minute presentation on the program is also available for groups or clubs

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