Veggie Gardeners Urged To Plant 1 More Row

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If you’re like most gardeners, you’re just itching to stick a trowel in the soil these days. When you do so, the folks who run local food banks would like you to consider sowing a few extra seeds or planting a couple additional starts.

About five years ago, People of Progress Food Bank & Resource Center brought the “Plant a Row for the Hungry” campaign to the Redding area. Last year, Shasta Food Group Coalition – which includes People of Progress, other nonprofit organizations, churches, and Shasta County Health and Human Services – started a similar effort. The idea is for backyard gardeners to grow a little extra produce for people who lack adequate nutritious food.

“People need to think about it now, because they are planting their gardens,” said Melinda Brown of People of Progress. Her organization usually gets donations from about a dozen gardeners. Brown’s organization would gladly accept more, but she is quick to encourage people to donate to whichever food bank is nearest to them.

That’s essentially the same message from Shasta Food Group. “The need for food is on the rise, and donations of food are down,” said the group’s Deborah Arias. “By donating extra produce directly to food banks, the people of Shasta County can help our local agencies stretch their meager resources.”

If people are wondering what crops to grow, Brown suggests tomatoes and summer squash, because they tend to produce large quantities and have a decent shelf life. Greens often spoil quickly, and corn requires an awful lot of water to produce very little. Still, Brown said most food banks will accept whatever excess people raise.

Arias said the coalition’s dietitians will also provide recipes that food banks may distribute to clients. “You can give somebody an acorn squash, but they just say, ‘I don’t know what to do with that,'” Arias said. That’s where the recipes help.

“If you have kids, what better way to each them that, we are watering this row now because some people don’t have enough to eat,” Brown added. “That’s such a neat lesson.”

And a lot of people around here, in fact, don’t have enough to eat. Local agencies in Shasta County last year provided 400,000 meals and 185,000 bags of food to people in need. They’ll take those extra zucchini you were going to toss into the compost pile.

For details on how to participate in the Plant a Row program, contact Brown at 243-3811, or Arias at 229-8481.

For the rest of this column, we’re going to head out to Shasta College …

• Lectures and readings by Fresno poet David Mas Masumoto that had been scheduled for today and Thursday, April 7 and 8, at Shasta College have been postponed because of a family illness. I’ll try to let you know when he reschedules, as Masumoto is a very compelling “poet of farming.”

• If you’re not going to hear Joy Kills Sorrow at Bernie’s Guitar on Friday, April 9, you might consider “The History of Gospel Music with Dr. Dee,” at the Shasta College Theatre. Not to be confused with Dr. Dre, Dr. Dee is Diane Clayton-White, a gospel vocalist, composer and conductor. She’ll be joined by local musicians Bernie Baker, Cleveland Boney, Dan Kinkel and Bruce Calin, as well as the Shasta County Concert Choir. At $10, or $7 for seniors and students, tickets are a good deal. They are available at the Cascade Theatre box office and will be on sale at the door. Music starts at 7:30.

• You might want to return to the Shasta College Theatre on Sunday for the Shasta County Youth Symphony’s spring concert. Mozart, Haydn, Rossini and Mahler are on the menu. Did I mention this is free? Check it out at 3:15.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and won’t eat a store-bought tomato. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

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has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
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6 Responses

  1. Avatar CA-Chris says:

    I love this idea and now plan to plant an extra row!

  2. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    I love the idea of sharing the fresh produce. This is what is lacking so much for those that get their food from the banks. Let's all try to do our part.

  3. Avatar Karen C says:

    Paul, I, too, dislike supermarket tomatoes, however a couple of years ago I discovered Costco and Safeway carry a brand that comes in a plastic clamshell called Campari. They are a small tomato, keep well on your counter and taste very good. I used them at Easter to make a tomato basil salad my daughter-in-law requested. I found fresh basil plants at a local nursery and was able to use some nice fresh leaves to add to the salad. Everyone thought it all came out of my garden. Have you tried the Campari?

  4. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    This is a fantastic idea. I never would have thought of it (eek), but that's why we have our friends here to help us out, right? Thanks for sharing this with us – I hope I will have a lot of veggies to pass along.

  5. Avatar Gary says:

    Your readers may want to visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org – a site that helps diminish hunger by enabling backyard gardeners to share their crops with neighborhood food pantries.

    The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

    Backed by Google.com and the USDA, more than 1,600 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

    It includes preferred delivery times, driving instructions to the pantry as well as (in many cases) information about store bought items also needed by the pantry (for after the growing season).

    If your community has a food pantry, make sure they register on http://www.AmpleHarvest.org.