Grow For It!: Plant a row for the hungry — get your hands dirty to give back

By From page B4 | February 27, 2012

ROBIN STANLEY Courtesy photo

ROBIN STANLEY Courtesy photo

Wow — attendance at previous Master Gardener classes is on the way to setting records this year.

So many people are interested in learning how to be better gardeners. But also know that many of you are already very successful gardeners; you’re people who grow loads of tasty vegetables, even last year, when many gardeners complained about late and disappointing tomatoes.

Does “doing good” for your neighbors while you play in the dirt sound like fun to you? If so, whether you are a novice veggie gardener or think of yourself as a pro, I hope you’ll read on to learn more about Plant a Row for the Hungry.

Did you know that right here in the community, food banks, food closets and non-profits are seeing unprecedented requests for food assistance? Plant a Row for the Hungry provides a way for you to support these organizations while doing what you love — gardening.

Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) is an international program that encourages home gardeners to grow and donate extra produce to local food programs. The Garden Writers Association estimates that 14 million pounds of fresh produce have been donated since it began this project in 1995.

Here in El Dorado County, Master Gardeners make it easy for you to donate your extra produce. Since 2007, fellow Master Gardener Zack Dowell and myself have maintained the local PAR Website — — providing updated  information on a variety of churches and non-profits that are grateful to receive your donations of fruits, vegetables and herbs. On this Website, which you can go to directly or access from our El Dorado County Master Gardener Website — — you’ll find a list of organizations, with hours of operation, contact information and a map, to help you find a program that is convenient for you.

The list is updated each spring, but it is recommended that you contact the organization to confirm the best time to bring your donation. There’s also a downloadable flyer that you can post at your office, school or church. You’ll be helping us to get the word out.

Who knows what kind of a gardening year is going to take place this year. Will it be the opposite of last year, with record hot and dry weather replacing 2011’s cool and rainy summer? No matter what, I bet that most die-hard gardeners will produce more veggies than they need.

In fact, those of you with cool season gardens may be finding that the unseasonably warm winter is producing a bounty of lettuce and broccoli. I don’t know a single vegetable gardener who likes to see produce go to waste, so it’s good to know that donations are welcome no matter what the season.

Start planning now for how and where you can grow some extra veggies. Need a few more resources to get you started? Zack’s class on Spring and Summer Vegetables is Saturday, Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the El Dorado County Government Center Hearing Room, Building C, 2850 Fairlane Court in Placerville.

The Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale will be held on Saturday, April 28, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Building at 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville. It’s a great opportunity to purchase veggie starts and lots of other interesting plants for your garden and landscape.

Even if you don’t have a garden, did you know that you can help with Plant a Row beds at the Hope Community Garden off Pleasant Valley Road in El Dorado? If you’d like additional information on our local Plant a Row efforts, please contact me at [email protected] or through the Master Gardener office at 530-621-5512.

Help Master Gardeners win a Rainbird Intelligent Use of Water Award valued at $5000 by voting online each day. This award of irrigation equipment will be used in the El Dorado County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden under construction at this time. Awards will be made to the projects receiving the highest number of votes by March 15. Go to and click on “Find and Vote on the Project you want Funded.” Search for “UCCE” to locate the El Dorado County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden project. Vote daily to help us win this valuable award.

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, by calling 530-621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome. The office is located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.

For more information about public education classes and activities, go to the Master Gardener Website at Sign up to receive  online notices and e-newsletter at

Robin Stanley

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