Growing a Row for Foodbanks and Community Kitchens

comments (2) January 8th, 2010

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nancynursez637 nancynursez637, member
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One of 4 buckets of squash taken to the food bank in the fall.  I also grew dedicated rows of potatoes, carrots and beans for the bank.Click To Enlarge

One of 4 buckets of squash taken to the food bank in the fall.  I also grew dedicated rows of potatoes, carrots and beans for the bank.

I first learned of the national Grow A Row program after a year of growing and sharing excess vegetables with the food bank.  I had always gardened and often had way more produce than I could use.  America’s Grow-A-Row

I spoke with the local food bank about a community wide project to encourage gardeners to grow one extra row to share wtih the food bank.  The demand for help had nearly doubled in our region with a 17% unemployment.  Our community is a rural farming community of about 6000 residents.  The federal assistance for food banks used to provide a box of food designed to provide 5 days assistance but that has been cut to 2.5 days worth of food.

We did not come up with volunteers to do a nationally linked project but a number of gardeners agreed locally to grow extra produce to share with the food bank after meeting with a local group called Victory Gardens Against Hunger.  Likewise many of the local churches were growing Community Gardens where produce was shared with anyone who needed it.  At first these gardens had to go door to door to offer produce but once the community got the idea, folks pitched in with planting, weeding and harvesting produce.   Some of the churches also used produce from their gardens for the free meals they provided. 

The food bank received over 3000# of fresh clean produce throughout the growing season.  This is in addition to the produce donated to the 4 community kitchens who put out meals one day a week each.  The kitchens serve a wide area beyond our immediate town and include a local indian reservation. 

It is best to contact the food bank in advance of donating.  Some large food banks cannot handle perishable foods, and some are concerned about security of food brought in.  Our local community welcomes all donations and from my garden alone I was able to donate 1520 # of fresh produce. 

Produce was fresh picked, cleaned and delivered Tues mornings for distribution Tues afternoons from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm.  The recipients were so glad to see the fresh produce they would help unload the van when I arrived, and take the items to the storeroom. 

Think about contacting your local food bank or community kitchens to see if they would welcome your excess produce or extra produce you might consider growing.  Since most of their work is volunteer, please consider cleaning produce before delivery.


Nancy Petersen

Madras Oregon



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Comments (2)

nancynursez637 writes: Great to hear your food bank will accept donations. And even greater that you have the space and time to share some of your fresh produce. It is so welcomed by those who are struggling right now.

Posted: 1:43 am on January 22nd
JadaE writes: What a great ministry Nancy! There are SO many families hurting right now...what a difference a few gardeners can make in their lives!

I am going to commit to planting a row (or two!)...our county food bank accepts produce on certain days...

Thanks for sharing! :) Jada
Posted: 9:34 am on January 11th
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