Rooted in Community, “Grow a Row” Sprouts Promise of New Connections - Capital Area Food Bank
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Rooted in Community, “Grow a Row” Sprouts Promise of New Connections

By Emily Osterhus November 4, 2009

Sometimes a really good idea is born out of such simplicity; all it takes is a little spark. Here in the Harvest for Health department of the Capital Area Food Bank we concentrate on getting fresh produce to the people who need it. This year, a beautiful idea sprouted into a program new to the DC area where gardeners donate extra produce from their home gardens to local community organizations that provide food to those in need right down the street.
Harvest for Health had no intention of starting a new program this spring, but we were open to it when the need presented itself.  Actually, the need has always been there.  We know that we need to get more fresh produce to the people who most need it – that’s why our department exists.  But the opportunity became more apparent when home gardeners started calling us. “Where can we take our extra vegetables?” Within weeks Grow a Row was born!
grow a row pic Cheverly Gardens 01_reduced
Rather than ask gardeners to bring their produce to the Capital Area Food Bank warehouse, we connect them with one an organization in their local community. The best part of this “Grow a Row” program is what goes unmeasured.  We can measure the produce that is donated, but how can we measure the connections that are being made?  When we made a connection in Cheverly, Maryland our gardener said, “I didn’t even know this place existed!” The agency
staff responded, “now that you know about us, you can send people here who need help.”  Hopefully communities and neighborhoods will grow closer through this effort — people who are already doing good work can team up to make not only a nutritious meal for a person in need, but a lasting connection to strengthen the community.
Are you interested in learning more about Grow a Row, or how you might get involved for the 2010 growing season? Email us.