Sow a Row…
March 25th, 2011 - By Therese Madden
…and help weed out hunger! Philabundance asks home gardeners to plant a little extra to provide fresh fruits and vegetables on the tables of people in need.
"We're going to have lots of herbs. We're going to have basil and Thai basil and cilantro and oregano and thyme."
"I'm planning on growing peppers and eggplant in contains this summer."
Yes, it's that time! Gardeners are dreaming of their summer bounty. One Philadelphia organization is hoping gardeners will also be thinking about other people when planning this year's garden, "we are encouraging people to plant a row for hunger, as part of the Share the Harvest Program."
Marlo DelSordo works for Philabundance, a hunger relief organization serving the Delaware Valley. She says they always welcome fresh produce, "fruits and veggies are the things people stop buying when times get tough and money gets tight. Right now produce prices are up about 4½% across the board."
Last year, home gardeners donated 7,600 pounds of produce through this program. According to Philabundance each pound is considered one serving. DelSordo is hoping for 10,000 pounds this year, "the face of hunger is truly changing. Right now, more people that have never needed food assistance are turning to food assistance, for a couple of reasons. The recession obviously, unemployment, and then underemployment, where people are just having their hours cut back."
Planting another row of vegetables wouldn't cost much, especially if you start with seeds, but there's also the labor to consider. "Another row is not too much work, I mean you are already out there weeding, you are already out there watering."
Ryan Kuck runs a non-profit called Preston's Paradise in West Philadelphia, and he's helped create a network of backyard gardens. Here's his tip for people who are thinking about planting more, "a lot of people in small spaces put too much in, and if you put too many plants in there you actually have less harvest because they don't have enough room to grow. So, they don't actually reach full maturity or full size. So make sure you're giving plants enough spacing."
Ok, let's say there's the space and the time. What to grow in the extra row? "Okra is great to grow, its kind of polarizing, but in my neighborhood everyone can't get enough okra. Kale is very easy to grow, it's sort of like a collard green and little bit more tender. It will grow all summer and won't flower or go to seed so you can keep harvesting throughout the year." More harvesting means more nutritious food for both the gardeners and those in need.