As you build your 2018 garden this spring, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article first appeared on this site in April 2010. It is repeated because much of the information remains current and newsworthy.)

As you start to plan your garden for this spring and summer, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry. The Plant A Row For The Hungry program (also known as Plant A Row or PAR) is a national campaign by the Garden Writers Association of America that has its roots in Alaska.

In the cold winter of 1994, Anchorage Daily News garden columnist and former Garden Writers Association of America President Jeff Lowenfels was returning to his hotel after a Washington, D.C., event when he was approached by a homeless person who asked for some money to buy food. Lowenfels said Washington, D.C., had signs saying, “Don’t give money to panhandlers,” so he shook his head and kept on walking. But the man’s reply, “I really am homeless and I really am hungry. You can come with me and watch me eat,” stayed with Lowenfels for the rest of his trip.

Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff Lowenfels

The encounter continued to bother Lowenfels, even as he was flying back to Anchorage. During the flight, Lowenfels came up with an idea when he started writing his weekly garden column (the longest continuously running garden column in the country, with no missed weeks since it started on Nov. 13, 1976). He asked his readers to plant one extra row in their gardens to grow food to donate to Bean’s Café, an Anchorage soup kitchen. The idea took off.

When Anchorage hosted the Garden Writers Association of America convention in 1995, Lowenfels took the GWAA members to Bean’s Café to learn about the Plant A Row For Bean’s Café program. The Garden Writers Association of America liked the idea, and it became the national Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign (also known as Plant A Row or PAR). In 2002, the Garden Writers Association Foundation was created as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit to manage the Plant A Row For The Hungry program.

“I am not surprised by the growth of PAR,” Lowenfels wrote in an e-mail to the Sitka Local Foods Network. “It is now in all 50 states and across Canada and there are thousands of variations of the original program — from prison gardens for the hungry to botanical gardens donating their produce from public display gardens. This is because gardeners always share information and extra food, so the idea was a natural.”

It took five years for the program to reach its first million pounds of donated food, but the second million only took two years and the next eight years saw a million pounds of donated food (or more) each year. Since 1995, more than 14 million pounds of food have been donated. Not only that, the program is getting ready to expand overseas to Australia, England and other countries with avid gardeners.

“We have supplied something in the vicinity of enough food for 50 million meals,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail. “Gardeners can solve this hunger problem without the government. And we don’t need a tea party to do it! Or chemicals, I might add, as author of a book on organic gardening!” Lowenfels is the author of Teaming With Microbes, written with Wayne Lewis. He released a second book, Teaming With Nutrients, as a follow-up to his first book, and in 2017 released a third book, Teaming With Fungi, as a second follow-up book.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one out of every eight U.S. households experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. Many people skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going an entire day or more without food. About 33 million Americans, including 13 million children, have substandard diets or must resort to seeking emergency food because they can’t always afford to buy the food they need. In recent years, the demand for hunger assistance has increased 70 percent, and research shows that hundreds of children and adults are turned away from food banks each year because of lack of resources.

According to the 2014 Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report, about one in six people in Sitka is food insecure. In 2013, there were 1,410 Sitkans (out of a population of about 9,000) and 766 families receiving food assistance (SNAP, aka food stamps). There also were 229 individuals who received food pantry assistance from the Salvation Army and 7,243 meals served through its lunch soup kitchen in 2013, and that number has grown substantially since then.

While many people credit Lowenfels for creating the Plant A Row For The Hungry program, Lowenfels says the real heroes are the gardeners growing the extra food and donating it to local soup kitchens, senior programs, schools, homeless shelters and neighbors. You can hear him pass along the credit to all gardeners at the end of this 2009 interview with an Oklahoma television station (video also embedded below).

“One row. That’s all it takes. No rules other than the food goes to the hungry. You pick the drop-off spot or just give it to a needy friend or neighbor. Nothing slips between the lip and the cup, I say,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail.

For people wanting to Plant A Row For The Hungry in Sitka, there are several places that would love to help distribute some fresh locally grown veggies or berries to those who are less fortunate, such as the Salvation ArmySitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), local churches, Sitka Tribe of Alaska and other organizations. The food the Sitka Local Foods Network grows at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden goes to the Sitka Farmers Market, school lunches and other programs.

People who participate in the Alaska Food Stamp program can use their Alaska Quest Cards to purchase produce and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets around the state. People who participate in the  WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program (operated in Southeast Alaska by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium or SEARHC) also can use special farmers market vouchers to buy fresh vegetables at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets in Alaska (this is part of the national WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program). The Sitka Local Foods Network matches up to $20 for produce purchased using WIC or SNAP benefits at the Sitka Farmers Market.

The Sitka Local Foods Network also takes donations of local produce to sell at the Sitka Farmers Markets, and all proceeds are used to help pay for SLFN projects geared toward helping more people in Sitka grow and harvest local food. For more information, contact the Sitka Local Foods Network board members at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• Plant A Row informational brochure (2017)

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As you build your garden this spring, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article first appeared on this site in April 2010. It is repeated because much of the information remains current and newsworthy.)

As you start to plan your garden for this spring and summer, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry. The Plant A Row For The Hungry program (also known as Plant A Row or PAR) is a national campaign by the Garden Writers Association of America that has its roots in Alaska.

In the cold winter of 1994, Anchorage Daily News (now called the Alaska Dispatch News) garden columnist and former Garden Writers Association of America President Jeff Lowenfels was returning to his hotel after a Washington, D.C., event when he was approached by a homeless person who asked for some money to buy food. Lowenfels said Washington, D.C., had signs saying, “Don’t give money to panhandlers,” so he shook his head and kept on walking. But the man’s reply, “I really am homeless and I really am hungry. You can come with me and watch me eat,” stayed with Lowenfels for the rest of his trip.

Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff Lowenfels

The encounter continued to bother Lowenfels, even as he was flying back to Anchorage. During the flight, Lowenfels came up with an idea when he started writing his weekly garden column (the longest continuously running garden column in the country, with no missed weeks since it started on Nov. 13, 1976). He asked his readers to plant one extra row in their gardens to grow food to donate to Bean’s Café, an Anchorage soup kitchen. The idea took off.

When Anchorage hosted the Garden Writers Association of America convention in 1995, Lowenfels took the GWAA members to Bean’s Café to learn about the Plant A Row For Bean’s Café program. The Garden Writers Association of America liked the idea, and it became the national Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign (also known as Plant A Row or PAR). In 2002, the Garden Writers Association Foundation was created as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit to manage the Plant A Row For The Hungry program.

“I am not surprised by the growth of PAR,” Lowenfels wrote in an e-mail to the Sitka Local Foods Network. “It is now in all 50 states and across Canada and there are thousands of variations of the original program — from prison gardens for the hungry to botanical gardens donating their produce from public display gardens. This is because gardeners always share information and extra food, so the idea was a natural.”

It took five years for the program to reach its first million pounds of donated food, but the second million only took two years and the next eight years saw a million pounds of donated food (or more) each year. Since 1995, more than 14 million pounds of food have been donated. Not only that, the program is getting ready to expand overseas to Australia, England and other countries with avid gardeners.

“We have supplied something in the vicinity of enough food for 50 million meals,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail. “Gardeners can solve this hunger problem without the government. And we don’t need a tea party to do it! Or chemicals, I might add, as author of a book on organic gardening!” Lowenfels is the author of Teaming With Microbes, written with Wayne Lewis. He recently released a second book, Teaming With Nutrients, which is a follow-up to his first book.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one out of every eight U.S. households experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. Many people skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going an entire day or more without food. About 33 million Americans, including 13 million children, have substandard diets or must resort to seeking emergency food because they can’t always afford to buy the food they need. In recent years, the demand for hunger assistance has increased 70 percent, and research shows that hundreds of children and adults are turned away from food banks each year because of lack of resources.

According to the 2014 Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report, about one in six people in Sitka is food insecure. In 2013, there were 1,410 Sitkans (out of a population of about 9,000) and 766 families receiving food assistance (SNAP, aka food stamps). There also were 229 individuals who received food pantry assistance from the Salvation Army and 7,243 meals served through its lunch soup kitchen in 2013, and that number has grown substantially since then.

While many people credit Lowenfels for creating the Plant A Row For The Hungry program, Lowenfels says the real heroes are the gardeners growing the extra food and donating it to local soup kitchens, senior programs, schools, homeless shelters and neighbors. You can hear him pass along the credit to all gardeners at the end of this 2009 interview with an Oklahoma television station (video also embedded below).

“One row. That’s all it takes. No rules other than the food goes to the hungry. You pick the drop-off spot or just give it to a needy friend or neighbor. Nothing slips between the lip and the cup, I say,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail.

For people wanting to Plant A Row For The Hungry in Sitka, there are several places that would love to help distribute some fresh locally grown veggies or berries to those who are less fortunate, such as the Salvation Army, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), local churches, Sitka Tribe of Alaska and other organizations. The food the Sitka Local Foods Network grows at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden goes to the Sitka Farmers Market, school lunches and other programs.

People who participate in the Alaska Food Stamp program can use their Alaska Quest Cards to purchase produce and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets around the state. People who participate in the  WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program (operated in Southeast Alaska by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium or SEARHC) also can use special farmers market vouchers to buy fresh vegetables at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets in Alaska (this is part of the national WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program).

The Sitka Local Foods Network also takes donations of local produce to sell at the Sitka Farmers Markets, and all proceeds are used to help pay for SLFN projects geared toward helping more people in Sitka grow and harvest local food. For more information, contact the Sitka Local Foods Network board members at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2016 Plant A Row informational brochure

• As you build your garden this spring, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article first appeared on this site in April 2010. It is repeated because much of the information remains current and newsworthy.)

As you start to plan your garden for this spring and summer, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry. The Plant A Row For The Hungry program (also known as Plant A Row or PAR) is a national campaign by the Garden Writers Association of America that has its roots in Alaska.

In the cold winter of 1994, Anchorage Daily News (now called the Alaska Dispatch News) garden columnist and former Garden Writers Association of America President Jeff Lowenfels was returning to his hotel after a Washington, D.C., event when he was approached by a homeless person who asked for some money to buy food. Lowenfels said Washington, D.C., had signs saying, “Don’t give money to panhandlers,” so he shook his head and kept on walking. But the man’s reply, “I really am homeless and I really am hungry. You can come with me and watch me eat,” stayed with Lowenfels for the rest of his trip.

Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff Lowenfels

The encounter continued to bother Lowenfels, even as he was flying back to Anchorage. During the flight, Lowenfels came up with an idea when he started writing his weekly garden column (the longest continuously running garden column in the country, with no missed weeks since it started on Nov. 13, 1976). He asked his readers to plant one extra row in their gardens to grow food to donate to Bean’s Café, an Anchorage soup kitchen. The idea took off.

When Anchorage hosted the Garden Writers Association of America convention in 1995, Lowenfels took the GWAA members to Bean’s Café to learn about the Plant A Row For Bean’s Café program. The Garden Writers Association of America liked the idea, and it became the national Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign (also known as Plant A Row or PAR). In 2002, the Garden Writers Association Foundation was created as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit to manage the Plant A Row For The Hungry program.

“I am not surprised by the growth of PAR,” Lowenfels wrote in an e-mail to the Sitka Local Foods Network. “It is now in all 50 states and across Canada and there are thousands of variations of the original program — from prison gardens for the hungry to botanical gardens donating their produce from public display gardens. This is because gardeners always share information and extra food, so the idea was a natural.”

It took five years for the program to reach its first million pounds of donated food, but the second million only took two years and the next eight years saw a million pounds of donated food (or more) each year. Since 1995, more than 14 million pounds of food have been donated. Not only that, the program is getting ready to expand overseas to Australia, England and other countries with avid gardeners.

“We have supplied something in the vicinity of enough food for 50 million meals,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail. “Gardeners can solve this hunger problem without the government. And we don’t need a tea party to do it! Or chemicals, I might add, as author of a book on organic gardening (Teaming With Microbes, written with Wayne Lewis)!” (Lowenfels recently released a second book, Teaming With Nutrients, which is a follow-up to his first book).

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one out of every eight U.S. households experiences hunger or the risk of hunger. Many people skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going an entire day or more without food. About 33 million Americans, including 13 million children, have substandard diets or must resort to seeking emergency food because they can’t always afford to buy the food they need. In recent years the demand for hunger assistance has increased 70 percent, and research shows that hundreds of children and adults are turned away from food banks each year because of lack of resources.

While many people credit Lowenfels for creating the Plant A Row For The Hungry program, Lowenfels says the real heroes are the gardeners growing the extra food and donating it to local soup kitchens, senior programs, schools, homeless shelters and neighbors. You can hear him pass along the credit to all gardeners at the end of this 2009 interview with an Oklahoma television station (video also embedded below).

“One row. That’s all it takes. No rules other than the food goes to the hungry. You pick the drop-off spot or just give it to a needy friend or neighbor. Nothing slips between the lip and the cup, I say,” Lowenfels wrote in his e-mail.

For people wanting to Plant A Row For The Hungry in Sitka, there are several places that would love to help distribute some fresh locally grown veggies or berries to those who are less fortunate, such as the Salvation Army, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), local churches, Sitka Tribe of Alaska and other organizations. The food the Sitka Local Foods Network grows at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden goes to the Sitka Farmers Market, school lunches and other programs.

People who participate in the Alaska Food Stamp program can use their Alaska Quest Cards to purchase produce and fish at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets around the state. People who participate in the  WIC (Women, Infants, Children) supplemental food program (operated in Southeast Alaska by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium or SEARHC) also can use special farmers market vouchers to buy fresh vegetables at the Sitka Farmers Market and other farmers markets in Alaska (this is part of the national WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program).

The Sitka Local Foods Network also takes donations of local produce to sell at the Sitka Farmers Markets, and all proceeds are used to help pay for SLFN projects geared toward helping more people in Sitka grow and harvest local food. For more information, contact SLFN President Lisa Sadleir-Hart or one of the other board members at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• 2012 Plant A Row For The Hungry marketing brochure

• 2009 Brochure on how to start a local Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign

• Please remember those people in Sitka in need during this Thanksgiving season

SalvationArmyTunaShelf

As we approach Thanksgiving, many families are gathering their supplies for the traditional feast. But there are a lot of people in Sitka who are struggling just to put food on the table.

In Sitka, the Salvation Army serves as the USDA-designated food bank and distribution point for commodity food. Maj. Turnie Wright (who teams up with his wife, Maj. Evadne Wright to run the local Salvation Army) said there are many items the Sitka Salvation Army can use to keep up with Sitka’s growing hunger needs. He said they served 77 meals at the soup kitchen the other day. You can learn more about Sitka’s growing number of people who need food assistance in the Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report released in April 2014 (note, the number of people using the Salvation Army food bank and soup kitchen already is much higher than the numbers listed in the report).

Here’s a list:

  • gloves/mittens, hats, and coats (especially kids sizes)
  • sample-size toiletry kits
  • diapers (all sizes)
  • vegetables (canned, if possible, due to limited freezer space, or fresh for the soup kitchen)
  • cereals (avoid the sugar-laden junk masquerading as cereal)
  • peanut butter
  • potted meat (spreadable, such as Libby’s)
  • Ramen noodles
  • powdered milk
  • canned meats (such as chicken, salmon, Spam, etc.)
  • pork and beans
  • soups
  • spaghetti and other pasta
  • spaghetti sauce
  • fish (any type, frozen is preferred for the soup kitchen and canned for the food bank)
  • wild game (for the soup kitchen)
  • six-packs of Ocean Spray or other juices
  • bottled water/tea
  • raisins (preferably in the snack boxes)

Maj. Turnie Wright said the Salvation Army can break down bulk sizes of different foods for the food bank. He also said they accept grocery gift cards from the local stores and Costco. In addition, they can work with people who are taking their vehicles to Juneau on the ferry and have room to bring stuff back from the Southeast Food Bank or Costco (this helps Salvation Army avoid freight charges). Finally, when you design your garden this year, don’t forget to Plant A Row For The Hungry.

The Salvation Army is one of several food assistance programs in Sitka, with others being centered around local churches, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and Sitkans Against Family Violence. The Salvation Army will assist the Sitka Tlingít and Haida Community, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood to host the annual community Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 27, at ANB Founders Hall. Doors open at 1 p.m., and food will start being served at 2 p.m. until it runs out (probably about 4 p.m.). Volunteers are needed, and donations of side dishes and desserts are appreciated (call Rachel Moreno at 738-6595 for details on the dinner).

For more information about how to help with the Salvation Army food bank and soup kitchen, contact Maj. Turnie Wright at 738-5854.

• Sitka Conservation Society seeks donations of canning jars for Applooza

applooza_flyer

The Sitka Conservation Society is looking for donations of quart and pint (preferably the shorter, wide-mouth pints) canning jars for a 4-H project called Applooza.

During the project, participants in the Sitka 4-H club will harvest apples from the apple trees planted on public property (probably about Sept. 20) and will learn how to make apple sauce (probably about Oct. 10). The jars of applesauce then will be donated to the Swan Lake Senior Center and the Salvation Army.

To donate the canning jars and/or lids, bring them to the Sitka Conservation Society office at 201 Lincoln St., Suite 4 (upstairs above Old Harbor Books). For more information, contact Marjorie Hennessy or Mary Wood at 747-7509. Other partners in this project include the Sitka Local Foods Network, the Sitka Food Co-op, and Sitka Kitch.

• Catch a ride to the Sitka Farmers Markets with Sitka Tours and the Sitka Local Foods Network

SitkaFarmersMarketBusNEW

Have you ever wanted to go to the Sitka Farmers Market, but couldn’t because there’s no regular bus service in Sitka on Saturday? Well, now you can. The Sitka Local Foods Network and Sitka Tours are teaming up to offer free, scheduled transportation to the last five Sitka Farmers Markets this summer.

“The Farmers Market planning team realized that access to the market may prove challenging to those without transportation given that The Ride (Sitka Community Ride) doesn’t run on Saturdays,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart said. “To improve access, the Sitka Local Foods Network requested funding in its City and Borough of Sitka grant proposal last year. We are hoping that our pilot run out Sawmill Creek Road this season helps get more Sitkans to our amazing market.”

Sitka Tours will send a shuttle van to make one loop of three Sitka Community Ride stops before the Sitka Farmers Markets open at 10 a.m. The shuttle van will return to Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall at noon to take people home from the market. The pick-up times and stops are:

  • Sawmill Creek Apartments (Price and Burkhart Streets), 9:45 a.m.
  • Indian River Road (Kaasdaa Heen), 9:50 a.m.
  • Swan Lake Senior Center/Salvation Army (Lake Street), 10 a.m.

This service is offered through a grant from the City and Borough of Sitka that paid for bus service to four markets. Sitka Tours helped us expand the service to five markets by donating the service for an extra market.

The first Sitka Farmers Market of the season was on June 28. The last five Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

• Sitka Kitch, First Presbyterian Church announce grant to renovate kitchen for classes, rentals

The Sitka Health Summit congratulates the folks at Sitka Kitch and First Presbyterian Church on their $13,000 grant. The funds will go a long way towards renovation of their community kitchen. "Sitka Kitch is a community collaboration to augment and strengthen Sitka's workforce through the development of food-based curriculum and training." It is an initiative of the Sitka Health Summit. From left are Patrick Williams, Marjorie Hennessy, Clara Gray, Cheri Hample, Martina Kurzer, Suzan Brawnlyn, Cyndy Gibson, and Betsy Decker. (Photo Courtesy of the Sitka Health Summit)

The Sitka Health Summit congratulates the folks at Sitka Kitch and First Presbyterian Church on their $13,000 grant. The funds will go a long way towards renovation of their community kitchen. “Sitka Kitch is a community collaboration to augment and strengthen Sitka’s workforce through the development of food-based curriculum and training.” It is an initiative of the Sitka Health Summit. From left are Patrick Williams, Marjorie Hennessy, Clara Gray, Cheri Hample, Martina Kurzer, Suzan Brawnlyn, Cyndy Gibson, and Betsy Decker. (Photo Courtesy of the Sitka Health Summit)

kitch_logo_mainSitka Kitch is the community food project that arose from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit. The overall goal of Sitka Kitch is to improve community capacity and community development through the lens of food security.

The Sitka Kitch will start with food-based education and emergency preparedness at the household level. As it grows, the Sitka Kitch seeks to provide career and technical training, and entrepreneurial development opportunities. This will be achieved through a shared-use community kitchen and will work to educate, incubate and cultivate community sustainability.

Sitka Kitch also has a sub-group that is currently working to improve storage of emergency food with the Salvation Army. Eventually the kitchen would also like to generate a food ‘income’ stream to augment immediate relief efforts by local food banks and soup kitchens.

Sitka Kitch is pleased to announce a new partnering with the Sitka First Presbyterian Church to kick off its first year through the use of kitchen space. The groups collaborated in April to prepare an application to the Northwest Coast Presbytery Community Blessings Grant. The proposal outlined a budget to renovate the church’s existing kitchen to meet the requirements of becoming an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)-certified kitchen and thus meet the needs of Sitka Kitch users.

The church and Sitka Kitch were awarded the grant, in the amount of $13,000, and the funds will go towards renovating and improving functionality of the kitchen. These renovations will begin in June and Sitka Kitch plans to start offering classes in July.

For more information, contact Marjorie Hennessy at the Sitka Conservation Society (marjorie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509). Click here to listen to a KCAW-Raven Radio morning interview with Marjorie and Suzan Brawnlyn to learn more about Sitka Kitch.