April 24, 2013

Grow A Row For A Healthier Community

Plant a row, grow a row, donate a row - build healthy communities

Grow a Row is a program for gardener volunteers to plant an extra row of food in their garden which is distributed to food lunch programs, community kitchens, food banks at harvest time. It is an awesome way to build community and help provide neighbours in need with healthful, local food.

The Grow a Row program was started in 1986 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since its inception, over 1.4 million pounds of food has been donated to food banks there.

This worthy program, which capitalizes on gardeners innate desire to generously share the fruits of their labour, has grown to include over 85 communities across the country.

The Victoria, BC chapter is the closest to me. It has been in operation for two years, and is set to expand to the greater region this year.

Victoria Grow a Row is working toward the following goals:

1. Cultivate a Caring Community: join together gardeners, those who wish they could garden, neighbourhoods and businesses in support of the Grow a Row project.

2. Share the Veggie Wealth: excess food from backyard gardens, balcony boxes and community gardens to be delivered to those who could really use some home-grown food.

3. Unite Existing Initiatives: work with our community partners to create awareness of what is already being done and continuing to be done to further the first two goals.

4. Food Sustainability: through community support and awareness balance health, environmental and social concerns to promote access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all.

Victoria collected over 700 lbs of food from contributing gardeners in 2012 that was distributed in the community via several collection areas.

Sooke's Sun River community garden deserves a shout out as well.  Last year volunteers in my community garden planted, cared for, harvested, and donated 2000 lbs of yummy, fresh food. It was the single largest contributor in the Greater Victoria area.

So wherever you are, plant a row, Grow a Row, and give your community the gift of healthful local food raised with loving care and attention.

If you don't have a vegetable garden, consider taking out some of that lawn and growing something edible.

If there is no program in your area, be an innovator and start one. The links at the bottom provide additional information to help out.

What Foods Are Needed?

  • root vegetables, like carrots, turnips and parsnips
  • broccoli, cabbage
  • peas, beans, tomatoes
  • radishes, sweet peppers, summer squash
  • apples and pears
  • lettuce and herbs

Happy gardening!

Canada's National Grow a Row website: http://www.growarow.org/indexENG.htm

USA National site: http://www.americasgrowarow.org/about/

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