Maybe you are one of those people who faithfully makes New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you are one of those folks who never does. But maybe this year you just might want to consider a resolution that could help change not only your life, but that of others as well.

By planting another row in your garden come spring, you and your garden can make a difference right there in your community by donating that extra food to the hungry. Many soup kitchens and other community support groups are facing ever-increasing demands. The economic downturn has negatively impacted food banks across the country, but it’s nice to know that every one of us can make a difference, even with a minimum of effort. Gardeners are a generous lot, always ready to share their bounty, so this is one of the easiest resolutions ever.

Spearheading this concept for several years running, Plant a Row for the Hungry is a grassroots effort of sharing a bountiful garden harvest that has already helped feed the hungry elsewhere. And it can do it where you live, too.

Whether you act as an individual or get your group involved, this is one community effort that fills a basic need. Across the country community garden spaces are being developed and used for the betterment of all.

PAR’s mission is to provide an avenue through which the more than 70 million gardeners in this country can help more than 35 million men, women and children who go to bed hungry daily.

PAR is is an innovative public-service campaign that was developed by the Garden Writers Association and Home and Garden Television to encourage gardeners to grow a little extra and donate the produce to soup kitchens and food banks that serve the homeless and hungry. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • As an individual you can plant extra produce and deliver the harvest to a food collection agency near you.
  • As a group you can organize gardeners into a PAR network in your community. You can also organize citywide planting and harvest events.
  • As a business you can organize a company-wide PAR campaign or contribute “in-kind” or financial donations to a local PAR campaign.

For more information on PAR, visit the GWA Web site at: gwaa.org or e-mail the organization at: par@gwaa.org. You can also call the toll-free number: 877-492-2727. Share your pride in your harvest with the hungry, and make this new year one in which you do make a difference. Wishing you a happy and healthy new year and bountiful gardens always.

 


Gardening 101

From one of my online newsletters “GreenTalks,” a nursery industry pipeline, comes the news that gardening can be exercise too. Shoot, that’s something we gardeners always knew, but educators have caught on to the concept as well. Next spring students at a Princeton, N.J., high school can take gardening for their physical education class.

School gardens have sprouted all across the nation, including one at the White House where schoolchildren tend the organic crops. Schools such as Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro have instituted wonderful heirloom seed and similar projects where students integrate history, sociology, botany and other sciences with gardens, but here comes the grit and sweat: We can expect these students to master a whole new set of skills, plus improve their health in the process.

The garden, according to a report on CentralJersey.com, will be an interdisciplinary teaching tool. While the gym class will be responsible for maintenance, other classes are expected to use the plants, vegetables and garden space. So I guess that instead of push-ups, they’ll be doing pull-ups (of weeds), right?

Lynette L. Walther is the recipient of the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award and the Florida Magazine Association’s Silver Award of Writing Excellence. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association.