August 10, 2009

Capital Area Food Bank's "Grow a Row"

[Today we're happy to feature a guest post from Anika Roth at the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) -- ed]

Hi folks! I am an AmeriCorps volunteer, working with the Harvest for Health department at the CAFB, which connects to community farms & gardens. I also have my own backyard garden.

This is the first year I’ve had a garden, so I’m experimenting with everything, including how much to plant. It’s surprising which things haven’t come to fruition yet (tomatoes, peppers), and which things have taken off (cucumbers, chard, parsley)! There is definitely more cucumbers, chard, and parsley then I can use. At first I took the extras to my coworkers, but then I had another idea:

My housemate, Stephan, works at one of the CAFB member agencies - a soup kitchen 8 blocks away from our house. I thought I could bring the excess to the soup kitchen, or better yet, I could just give it to Stephan to take with him!

At the same time, the Food Bank has been getting lots of calls from local gardeners who wanted to donate their produce to us. This is awesome because we don’t get lots of produce donations and it’s essential to a healthy diet! Some of the gardeners live pretty far from the Food Bank, though, and they were worried about their produce degrading in the time it took to get it to the Food Bank and then back out to the community.

So we decided to apply the same concept I had used to hook up local gardeners with agencies near them. It’s been fabulous. We’re calling the program Grow A Row, because ultimately we would like gardeners to plan an extra row to donate to their local community organizations. (At this point, though, we’re happy with any extra you already have!)

All you have to do is call or email the Food Bank and we will start to look for agencies near you. We will call the agencies to make sure they are a good fit and help facilitate a partnership between you and them. You’ll also get a nifty sign! (See pic.) To sign up or for more information email us or call us at (202) 526-5344.

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