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The Good Earth

...Plant a Row Grow a Row
by Dan Clost
by Dan Clost


First serious garden earned 25 cents from the Kemptville Horticultural Society when I was 12. Have been poor in horticulture ever since but rich in spirit.

Went to work writing the Good Earth column (over 500 articles published in newspaper, magazine, website and journal.) and learned that what was printed wasn't what I wanted to say and certainly not what Gentle Reader understood me to say. Subsequently have developed a certain clarity and economy of words.

Day job- nursery and production manager for a large nursery/garden centre
Side job- Garden restoration and renovations, design consultations, remedial pruning.
Night job- garden writer and communicator (overnight success in another 20 years)

Dan gardens in Canadian Zone 5b

September 21, 2003

It’s been a while since we’ve strolled down the philosophical garden path, Gentle Reader. Today, though, we’ll take the way less trodden. We have a fairly good understanding as to why we, ourselves, garden. As some old chap mentioned a year or two ago, truth, good and beauty seems to sum up the qualities rather well.

A cynic might say that, truth be told, our flower gardens are merely affectations of the well-to-do. If this seems harsh to read, especially in a gardening column, consider this: those of us who can spend time gardening have a.) stewardship of our own bit of this good earth; b.) the monetary resources to purchase the plants and tools needed; c.) the luxury of the time to do it; and d.) a lifestyle that allows for the time to even contemplate such a venture unencumbered by the daily need to merely provide for our families.

By the standards of our society, we have worked hard to be able to do this and there should be no negative connotations assumed for doing so.

However, there is a certain fragility about our comfort that needs to be acknowledged.

We know too well that there are folks in our country, in our own communities, who do not enjoy such luxury. These people are not indigent bums who leach off of us. The majority are hard working, proud, valuable members of our community who are astonished to find themselves in such need. All it takes is a factory closure or temporary shutdown to jeopardise many a family’s finances.

Visit your local foodbank, ask any social service agency about child poverty, talk to the Sally Ann’s about the desperate need some of our neighbours have to deal with every day. Ask them specifically about food. There is no excuse that allows people to go hungry in our land of plenty,

There is a way to effect some tangible good with our gardens. It is so simple- grow some extra vegetables or fruits for donation. Plant a Row Grow a Row is a movement that began in the United States and is spreading across North America. Folks are asked to set aside a patch of their own land specifically for other people. The produce is brought to a central collection place such as the food bank or a community run greenhouse or garden plots. Depending on the nature of the crop and the immediate need, the food is distributed where it can do the most good. In fact, by inquiring before you plant in the spring, you can sow the veggies most needed- even if it is broccoli or cauliflower.

In Canada, the “seed” organisation is the Composting Council of Canada. They have all of the promotional material, planning guidelines and an amazing network of connections that you can access. Visit their website to get started: Anyone can initiate such a programme but it takes the community to bring it to fruition.

That is why you are reading about this now, GR. It will take a bit of time to set up the committee, do the advertising, educate the community. It may seem intimidating, but you can do it. In fact, how can you not?

Here’s the beauty of it. All of the qualities that impart joy, contentment and relaxation to you through gardening will be realised with your participation in this campaign. You lose nothing and gain everything. Better yet, this will not detract or take away from any other initiatives; it will only augment them.

Those of you in Trenton, Ontario can contact me ( to join the team. Those of you elsewhere can either contact your community agencies to become involved. If Plant a Row Grow a Row has not been started, then get busy.


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