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Plant a row - Grow a row
by Lorraine Hunter
August 11, 2013

Growing Season Starts With a Party

New Westminster Plant a Row ? Grow a Row starts off every new growing season with a garden party complete with garden speakers, giveaways and lots of food in the cafeteria at St. Thomas Moore Collegiate, headquarters for the program. This year marked the 13th Annual Spring Gardeners’ Party.

“Our Plant a Row ? Grow a Row is about getting homeowners to grow and donate produce to those in need,” explains coordinator Claude LeDoux. “We are the conduit for taking it in bulk to the food bank. Our party is for learning, laughing and enjoying the spreading of horticultural knowledge. The focus is to assist new and advanced gardeners with techniques for growing edibles.”

Most of the produce goes to the New Westminster site of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Additional donations are directed to the Union Gospel Mission and/or various food kitchens.

The program has volunteers of all ages including high school students from St. Thomas Moore, which has its own garden, and from two local elementary schools -- Holy Cross and Our Lady of Mercy. It also gets support from Langley Farm Market, a grocery store across the street, which regularly donates food and boxes. “They have been exceptional in helping us,” says LeDoux.

Although people in the area can garden all year round, the program officially goes from June till Thanksgiving. Every Sunday morning from 9 to 9:30 am, people drop off vegetables, herbs and fruit including strawberries, rhubarb, grapes and sometimes even blueberries.

“What we get depends on the season,” says LeDoux, who has been gardening since he was six-years-of-age. His own huge garden currently supplies 10 garbage bags of greens per week including spinach, parsley and lettuce.

“We’ll get tomatoes, carrots, kohlrabi. There’s great diversity. One man brought in 100 pounds of potatoes. We also get herbs like sage, basil and parsley which are really appreciated. Our weekly volume can be anything from zero to 100 or 150 pounds of fresh produce. Some weeks, we’ll get 25 to 30 heads of lettuce.”

LeDoux, who is Parks Horticulture Manager for the City of New Westminster, also grows vegetables for display in the parks. “Kale, cabbage, leeks, lettuce and small tomatoes all help to make really nice displays and as they ripen we also donate them to the food bank,” he says.

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