Monday, March 21, 2011

Plant-A-Row Challenge. March Update

Welcome Spring! Well, sorta...we are supposed to get 6 inches of snow today. Oh fickle weather!

Anyway, we are at the middle, or just past the middle, of March. Time to check in with our progress with the Plant-A-Row Challenge. A month ago when I started this challenge, I was pushed to action by the increasing news about the food crisis. In the month since the challenge began food prices has climbed even further. With the recent tragedy in Japan, the continuing turmoil in the Middle East pushing on oil prices and the draconian cuts proposed to the safety net to the poor in our own country, the idea of NEED is not just something we can watch from far away on a television screen. NEED is great in our own communities.

In our own small ways we can make a difference.

This past month I asked participants to connect with organizations in their community that would benefit from either a surplus of their produce or a surplus of their time.

After a bit of phone tag I was able to connect with someone from my local cooperative extension. I found out that the program is no longer called Plant-A-Row. Instead it is called Harvest for Hunger. The reason for the change is that the new name better encompasses the mission of the program. I also learned that the best crops to plant are crops that will not be perishable; keepers such as onions, potatoes and winter squashes. I also found out that there is a gleaning network in my community. When a farmer has harvested all it needs from his field then a call goes out to folks who can harvest from the field so that the food can be donated to a local food pantry. I also got the contact information for a person who coordinates volunteers for a local community garden. Not only will my participation in these programs contribute to fulfilling a need but I also think it will be a great way to meet some new folks.

For next month I think it would be great to share what sort of crops we plan to grow in our rows. It is never too late to join the challenge.

So how was your month? What did you find out?


Jennie said...

I found out that my local food pantry will take veggies if they have a "form from ISU Extension office." Which, after some conversation with a local ISU extension gal, she *thinks* she knows what form he's talking about. I'm working to get a copy from her, and then I'll take that to the garden club meeting in a couple of weeks to see if anyone is interested in the program.

If no one is interested, I'll have to wait, because I don't have enough sunny space to grow extra. I'll need to find a space to plant extra vines/onion/etc. Either with a local church or in a local park.. something.

Slow progress.

Fleecenik Farm said...

Jennie, good work! I figured it was going to take a bit for folks to connect with organizations and find out what rules applied to their state.

As for crops, I think I am going to grow pie pumpkins or other small squash. I have grown these on a trellis in the past and they do not take up too much room this way.

Good luck!

LindaM said...

I am having a hard time finding anything out. I know that one of the chuches sponsored a program simikar to the one that you mention...where the parishners went out to farms to harvest. But some strange things happened to the church and they are defunct for the next two days, I'll dedicate time to call the food panties. I'm not up at the farm and that makes it harder for me to find tbe right people.
On a brighter note, the local home makers club has shown some interest in this project.
I can't find a Harvest for Hunger official site. Do you have a url?

Fleecenik Farm said...

Linda, I tried to find a URL and could only find state wide organizations that participate in Harvest For HUnger. My suggestion would be to check with you state or county cooperative extension office to see if they might know.