Public Health is launching a new program this summer to help community members increase their vegetable intakes called Grow a Row.
The concept is quite simple. There are people in Pictou County growing nutritious and delicious food right in their own backyard. In every garden, there are times when there is just too much to eat. Meanwhile, there are people in our community who do not have access to fresh produce. The solution? Share it! Grow a Row does just this, by distributing food donated from local gardens to organizations such as Kids 1st Family Resource Centre, New Hope, Roots House, and Tearmann House.
“This program will compliment our community garden,” says Public Health Nutritionist Kelley Cavan, who has been involved with partners to grow food for three years. This year, the community garden is on a plot of land generously donated by Christensen Farms in Alma. “The community garden has been a great place to grow food for our clients, but having food from other gardens will increase the produce that we can share”, says Cavan. Grow a Row originally began in Manitoba in 1986, when a couple produced more potatoes than their family could consume and donated the excess to the local food bank. Since then over 1.4 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables have been provided to Winnipeg Harvest through the program. Over the years, this great idea spread across Canada and builds on the long-standing tradition of gardeners sharing their harvest with others.
Monica Graham, an avid gardener for over 30 years says that, “we always have extra harvest, and I hate to see it go to waste. I end up processing more than we can ever eat ourselves – so it makes sense to give away a portion of our fresh food at harvest time to those who need it.”
The donated food is then distributed to organizations such as Kids 1st Resource Centre, where cooking sessions will be planned throughout the harvest to teach parents and their children healthy recipes that use the fresh produce.
“It’s about getting back to the basics”, says Debby Turner with Kids First. “Many people have lost the skills to cook with fresh produce. This program provides a wonderful hands-on learning experience on how to sow, grow, and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Many community members are already donating their extra produce to the initiative. “Serving one’s community is an important aspect of life. This program allows me to support people who have been identified as needing the help; it allows me to reduce waste; and meanwhile I get to do what I like to do – play in the mud,” stated Graham.
We are asking Pictou County residents who would like to Grow a Row for their community to contact Irene Vihant at Public Health 752-7600 ext. 3335