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Plant A Row - Grow A Row
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen

Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.

July 4, 2004

Food banks in North America are distributing more fresh fruits and vegetables than they've ever given out before, thanks to a wonderful program called Plant a Row - Grow a Row. What is this and how did it come into being?

Ron and Eunice O'Donovan grew more spuds than they could handle back in 1986, so this Winnipeg couple decided to donate the excess to the local food bank (Winnipeg Harvest). Their gift was met with such enthusiasm that the O'Donovan's decided to encourage their friends and neighbours to also donate their surplus produce. Since then, over 1.4 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables have been given to Winnipeg Harvest through the Grow-A-Row program.

The program has since been taken up by other Canadian communities such as Edmonton, Alberta; London, Ontario as well as regions in Quebec such as the Laurentians and the Rigaud. On May 1, 2000 the national launch of Plant a Row - Grow a Row took place at the Halifax Public Gardens. Key funding sponsors of the Nova Scotia program were the Resource Recovery Fund Board, and the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment. Two gardens were established at local composting facilities: Miller Composting and New Era Farms. At the end of the harvest, over 4000 pounds of food produce was donated to the Metro Food Bank.

Gardeners may already be in the admirable habit of donating their excess produce to the local food bank but by initiating a Plant a Row - Grow a Row program in the community, a useful framework is developed. Generosity is better directed. Specific vegetables are recommended for local food banks and soup kitchens. Drop-off locations and times may be provided. Food distribution agencies weigh and record the weight of total donations to provide some measure of success. Motivation is everything. Recording donations is important

To organize a Plant a Row - Grow a Row program in a community, a committee should be formed to organize this effort. The committee needs a chairperson and a food bank representative to coordinate and guide the initiative, a media person for promotion, and where possible, a garden club representative, a local service club representative and, if possible, municipal representatives and local celebrities. Local commercial growers should also be encouraged to participate.

The campaign should have an official launch, continual promotion and reminders to bring in their food donations as well as a closing date. When the campaign has finished for the year, a celebration should be held to give thanks to all those who participated. Goals should also be set for next year's efforts.

Interested in helping to form a Plant a Row - Grow a Row campaign in this community? Call 1-877-571-GROW(4769) or visit this website for more information.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row