Spring spurs charitable gardening

Last autumn, several members of Saint Paul's United Methodist Church in Oneida, concerned about the strained resources of area food shelves, met to organize a local Plant-A-Row for the Hungry campaign. Started in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association of America, Plant-A-Row for the Hungry (PAR) is a nationally recognized grassroots campaign to enlist America's home gardeners in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Since 1995, over twelve million pounds of fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables have been donated to food banks by local PAR campaigns across the nation. According to Captain Susan Ramsey of the Salvation Army-Oneida Corps, fresh produce is critical to sustaining the health of the needy families served by her organization and is greatly appreciated by those families. She is excited about the establishment of the first PAR project in Madison County and looks forward to receiving produce later this year.

The goal of the Oneida PAR campaign is to supply as much fresh produce as possible to local affiliates of the Food Bank of Central NY. To achieve this goal two strategies will be pursued in 2009. First, in partnership with St. Paul's United Methodist Church, a vegetable garden dedicated to supplying produce to the food bank will be grown on church property. Secondly, home gardeners will be asked to participate by growing an extra row of something to donate to the food bank.

Garden space at St. Paul's is available to individual volunteers and service organizations that wish to grow vegetables for the food bank. For more details, contact Fred Henson at 363-3844 or Candy Crayton at 350-3754. In order to ensure that adequate ground is plowed and prepared it is important to call by May first. A garden dedication will take place at 10 a.m. May 23 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. Volunteers who wish to grow an extra row at home are encouraged to attend in order to receive a starter kit including information on how to donate produce, how to deduct the value of donations from income tax, and a free packet of seeds courtesy of Madison County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

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