Grow Another Row provides food for those in need
Grand Junction Free Press
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – Phil Frisk purposely plants enough fruits and vegetables to feed the critters that wander into his yard in an upscale Redlands neighborhood.
“The deer and rabbits come here. Rather than get mad at them I just plant enough for them, so we have plenty to eat, as well as our neighbors, friends, and Grow Another Row,” Frisk said.
Frisk, who turns 71 next week, is a hobby gardener who grows more than enough fruits and vegetables to give away. So when a friend sent him a flyer about a new program that distributes extra backyard produce to food banks and emergency food programs, Frisk signed up.
Frisk has donated 93 pounds of fresh produce since late June when volunteers first started collecting and making deliveries
“He’s given lots of nutritious things that don’t weigh a lot,” like lettuce, chard and spinach, said Amanda McQuade, founder of Grow Another Row.
She recently delivered 12 1/2 pounds of greens to the Homeward Bound community homeless shelter who told her they’d go through it in two days.
During the summer the shelter provides meals for 120 people twice a day.
Servings of fresh produce have increased from about twice weekly, to five or six times a week, said Homeward Bound executive director Gi Moon.
“It’s been so great to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to our guests,” Moon said.
The fresh food not only adds nutrition; it also saves the shelter food costs.
“I imagine it’s saving us over a few hundred dollars a month,” Moon said.
Amanda McQuade is a stay-at-home mother who was concerned about hunger in the Grand Valley. She’d save coupons and buy extra food at the grocery store to give away but said it seemed like not enough.
She learned about a program in Idaho called Backyard Harvest – started by a stay-at-home mom like herself – who grew extra produce in her own garden to give away, and encouraged her neighbors to do the same.
Backyard Harvest grew, became a nonprofit organization and during a span of two years gave away 37,000 pounds of fresh food.
“I thought it’s something I can do, organize from home while my [toddler] son is sleeping,” McQuade said.
McQuade began spreading the word through various social networks to find people willing to donate and/or collect the food. So far 18 people have offered to collect produce (many of them gardeners growing extra food themselves). They bring it to Catholic Outreach, the community food bank or the homeless shelter. McQuade would like to distribute to the Western Slope Food Bank of the Rockies as well.
Once a week Teresa Keating fills her Honda CRV full of extra produce from the Cameron Place CSA (community supported agriculture) which she then delivers to Catholic Outreach.
Most of the fresh food goes toward the soup kitchen meal prepared each day at noon, Keating said.
“The people who receive it are really thrilled about the fresh ingredients,” she said.
Produce is collected from all over the valley from about 20 gardeners, McQuade said.
There’s also a drop-off box at the Cooperative Extension office on Orchard Mesa every Monday and Thursday where volunteers pick up the produce on those days at 4 p.m.
As of Thursday, Grow Another Row had donated 1,600 pounds of fresh produce to Catholic Outreach, the shelter, or the community food bank.
McQuade’s concern about hunger stemmed from having a child of her own and having to constantly think about food, she said.
Her son, Lincoln, who’s almost 2, loves vegetables and being in the garden, she said. “I think that’s what made me more sympathetic. No one in this wealthy country should be hungry.”
Yet the number of people lining up for supplemental foods at the community food bank at 486 Morning Glory Lane is always huge, McQuade said.
“The children, the elderly, the range of people you see there is staggering, touching and upsetting. So many people need help,” McQuade said.
McQuade is in the process of seeking nonprofit status for Grow Another Row so that the organization can do more, like pick fruit from backyard trees when owners are unable, care for gardens for vacationing owners in exchange for the harvest, and help homeowners, schools, and/or communities build gardens in exchange for a portion of the harvest.
McQuade chose the name Grow Another Row to encourage people not only to donate their excess produce, but to intentionally plant extra.
Sheri Cogley started doing that as soon as she heard about the program.
Cogley had planned on building two garden boxes last spring. But after she heard about Grow Another Row, she removed a couple of shrubs and built four extra 4-by-4 foot boxes. She’s donating what her small family doesn’t use, she said.
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