Cultivating community growth through food
Local food and food security have been gaining some much deserved attention in the last couple of years thanks in part to many great authors championing the cause.
However, the real work is being done right in our backyards with programs like “Grow a Row – Plant a Row.”
The Plant a Row program started in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1986, initiated by two farmers who ended up producing more potatoes in their backyard garden than their family could consume. They ended up donating all of their extra produce to their local food bank. This simple yet ingenious idea started a revolution and soon everyone was encouraging their friends and neighbours to also donate their excess produce.
Ever since then, over 1.4 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables have been donated to Winnipeg Harvest (the food bank) via their Plant a Row program.
Plant a Row has started to pop up in other Canadian communities such as Edmonton, London, and many regions in Québec. Edmonton’s program is lead by the Edmonton horticultural society with the support of local businesses. London’s program is under the guidance of London composts, a joint venture of businesses, government and non-profit organizations devoted to raising awareness of the importance of composting and compost.
The benefits of Plant a Row can branch out in multiple directions. The local vegetables and fruit donated to the food bank boosts the food security of the community and the individuals who are dependant on it. The gardeners benefit from the cultivation of their own garden, learning new skills, saving money, sharing with those in need, and eating healthy. Finally, the community benefits as a whole when they participate and control the cultivation of their own food security.
“Community food security exists when all citizens obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes healthy choices, community self reliance and equal access for everyone.” (Bellows and Hamm, 2003)
We encourage you to dig in and join gardeners this spring to help Plant a Row and share the veggies in your garden.
For more information contact Sharon Hartline at 250-280-0407.
Food Bank Hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.