Plant A Row For the Hungry “PAR”

Plant A Row For the Hungry is a program we like to mention this time of year. When those delicious fresh vegetables start producing faster than your household can use then think about donating to your local food bank or soup kitchen. The economic downturn has caused hardship for many. Gardeners everywhere are helping provide a little extra food for the groups and agencies that help the food needy. And as my good friend and former Victory Garden host, Jim Wilson says, “if you don’t have surplus vegetables think about dropping off a few fresh flowers at a nearby soup kitchen. The folks who dine there probably don’t often see flowers on the table and flowers feed the spirit.” This morning Jim told me he dropped off a few heads of cabbage that were at the “ready to pick or they’ll bolt” stage.

PAR began at Bean’s Soup Kitchen in Anchorage, AK. Garden columnist, Jeff Lowenfels, thought, what if surplus food from home gardens could be donated to soup kitchens and food banks. Get those fresh fruits and vegetables into the food chain instead of the compost.

In May, Keane and I were in Anchorage, AK where I spoke at a Master Gardener conference. Jeff kindly took us by the soup kitchen where it began in 1995. To date this program of The Garden Writers Association has provided over 50 million meals to help feed the hungry.

jeff rose marie at bean's cafe

There is more information on the Garden Writers Association website. Jeff and I are in front of Bean’s. We were careful to not photograph anyone waiting for a meal because of privacy concerns.

Northwest Flower & Garden Show

We’re heading north to Seattle for the annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show. This year the show runs now through February 24th. It’s showtime across the country, and it’s the best place to hear speakers, buy new plants and especially in Seattle we always find inspiration from the fabulous show gardens. I’ll be speaking and doing a 1:30 demonstration on edible gardening in containers at the NW Horticulture Society garden located in the entry. I can hardly wait to see this four part garden “Eat Your Vegetables! Garden to Table “.

I’ve designed and worked on gardens at this show. It’s pretty amazing backstage when trucks drive onto the fourth floor of the Washington Convention Center as construction begins. It’s a breakneck pace starting on Saturday and finishing at noon on Tuesday when judging begins. This year I’m a wide-eyed tourist and the show always makes me happy.

Garden from greenhouse

Our venture into straw bale gardening began with a garden promoting Plant A Row For the Hungry, a program of the Garden Writers Association. PAR encourages gardeners to contribute their surplus produce to local food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. These organizations are always short of fresh produce so look into sharing your surplus.

Portland Yard, Garden, Patio Show 2008

February 15th, 16th & 17th, you’ll find Nichols Garden Nursery at booth  #1386 at the beautiful Portland Yard, Garden, & Patio Show. Sunday, at 11:00 a.m. I’ll present a seminar on “Culinary Herbs: How to Grow and Use In the Pacific Northwest”. YGP, gets us enthused about the beginning of spring. With lovely display gardens,  free seminars, vendors offering fantastic selections of plants, seeds, bulbs, this is the place and time Oregon and Southern Washington gardeners gather to shop, learn, relax and plan their garden year.

The Oregon Convention Center has good parking, benches to relax, and such a nice ambience that the entire show makes me feel like I’m already in a garden.

Come by our booth and mention you’ve seen our blog or website and pick up a free packet of spinach or sunflower seed. We’ll have seeds, gardening products, catalogs and we’re ready to answer your gardening questions. If you have a little extra garden space and are concerned about local hunger issues, we’d like to explain Plant A Row For the Hungry, a program of the Garden Writers Association. We can offer you a choice of seed packets to get you started. Collectively, participants raise thousands of pounds of produce for local food banks and soup kitchens where fresh vegetables for those in need are always appreciated.