Red, white and blue potatoes are in the ground. Red onion sets are planted in neat rows.
Gobs of sugar snap peas are inoculated with rhizobium and pushed into the soil beneath wire trellises. They’re all my family’s favorites.
And, the favorites of millions of people who go hungry every day in this country.
Over 47 million people, the majority children and senior citizens, in the United States didn’t have enough to eat in 2010, according to the World Hunger Organization. And, the number grows daily in this rough economy. Hunger has become an epidemic.
Because I’ve experienced nature’s bounty in my vegetable garden for over two decades, it wasn’t difficult to become part of Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR ), a program that has been a part of Garden Writers Association since 1996. Their message is plant an extra row of beans, an additional tomato plant or hill of squash and donate the harvest to the local food pantry.
Potatoes are very popular at food pantries; their hungry clients cannot get enough of them. These are some I grew and donated.
PAR gardeners have contributed more than 18 million pound of fresh vegetables and fruits to the hungry, over two million pounds in 2011, alone!
The easiest crops to grow, and the ones that go first at food pantries, are:
Collards and kale 
Loose-leaf lettuce 
Green beans 
This is my Plant a Row for the Hungry garden. I harvest at least 400 pounds every year for the local food pantry, just from six raised beds.
I don’t have to plant extra hills or rows, because there is always plenty to share. As any veggie gardener knows, squash keeps on coming, and there are always too many tomatoes! It’s only a matter of taking your extras to a local food pantry or PAR collection point. Contact your state extension service for local PAR information. Many Master Gardener programs do PAR collections.
Please plant an extra row of vegetables for the hungry. It’s so easy to stop hunger.
Doreen Howard has written for The Old Farmer's Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide for 15 years and is the former garden editor at Woman’s Day as well as a photographer. She has grown more than 300 varieties of heirloom edibles and flowers in the last two decades.
In stores now!
Look for Doreen's newest book, Heirloom Flavor: Yesterday's Best-Tasting Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs for Today's Cook. Find in stores everywhere including Walmart and on the Web including amazon.com .