Row for the Hungry

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Written by Lily Hayward

My name is Lily Hayward, I’m a student at Guilford College and during the spring 2016 semester I was a garden intern at The Edible Schoolyard. I am a sociology/anthropology student with an environmental studies minor. I started a Row for the Hungry here at The Edible Schoolyard. This concept has sprung up across the country and is focused on encouraging small farms and community gardens to harvest a row of crops to donate to local food banks. This specific project allowed me to develop meaningful connections between my academic studies and my personal interests of food and community building. Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly interested in food insecurity and what some potential solutions are for approaching this nationwide issue.

I believe that Row for the Hungry is an extremely significant way to intentionally build a stronger community. By focusing our energy on not just the needs of one’s self but on the immediate and long term needs of all families in the area, solutions can be formed for those who lack access to affordable and healthy produce. The process is obvious to me: plant and grow sustainable food and share what we harvest to build a stronger community in which we all get to feed ourselves. When we begin with the fundamental element of sharing resources, we can collectively make a positive difference in our communities.

Starting a Row for the Hungry begins with understanding why and how people in our own neighborhoods face food insecurity. According to the 2015 study sponsored by the Washington-based Food Research & Action Center, the Greensboro-High Point metro area ranks as No. 1 nationwide in food hardship.  Curious about why this is happening? Take a look at some of these great resources:

The next step is to take action. Row for the Hungry is something that everyone can be a part of.  Whether you have a garden in your backyard or you are interested in using a community garden bed, all you have to do is donate a portion of the produce you harvest. Any size donation will be contributing to the solution. For those of you in Guilford County, once produce is harvested, the next step is to drop off your portion at The Children’s Museum. Our CEO, Marian King, connects us to Share the Harvest (http://sharetheharvestguilfordcounty.org/) who then helps distribute the produce to those in need. Planting, growing and harvesting are the first steps to Row for the Hungry; we need to recognize the needs in our larger community to understand how this form of involvement can make a lasting impact. Every effort matters!

Family Gardening Classes!

Family Gardening Classes!

This spring, we are starting a new series of weekend classes at the Edible Schoolyard.  One Sunday a month (February through April) we have scheduled a class for families or adults called “We Can Grow.”  Since it’s hardly felt like winter this season, your inner gardener has probably been nagging you to get going on the backyard (or front yard) garden plot at your house.  Or maybe your child’s school has sent home information about volunteer opportunities to help in the school garden.  In either case, maybe your skills and your tools are a bit rusty.  We’re here to help you figure out how to start or expand your own edible landscape! Continue reading

Spreading Roots in the Community

Winter is the time of year when most gardeners have “time off.” During this “off time” a gardener’s thoughts are often on seed catalogues, dreaming, prepping the seed starting area, and, basically, gardening. Winter at the Edible Schoolyard finds me doing quite a bit of pruning, planting/transplanting, remodeling outdoor exhibits, drinking lots of warm beverages, and, dreaming.

So far this winter, we have added several new types of plants (hooray for nut trees!) in new areas of the garden. Last week there was a small Juneberry bush sitting on the table in a plastic nursery pot. I was in the chicken yard with a group of children, feeding the chickens and talking about life. All of a sudden, I heard a sound behind me, and turned to see a little girl, waiting patiently for my attention.  She delivered a heartfelt message about wanting to adopt a plant, any plant, oh please…can’t you spare just one little plant for me (and my class) to take home? I smiled and told her that I would love to send everyone home with a plant, but that was the only one and it already had its home waiting on it, etc… She smiled, looked very disappointed, and walked off.

Five minutes later I heard a familiar “uhh hum” sound behind me. The same girl was back with a newly formulated argument for why she would be the perfect adopted parent for the Juneberry. I was thoroughly impressed with her determination and had a hard time not laughing because the situation was so cute.  This same scene replayed 3 or 4 more times before her class left the museum.

Edible Schoolyard staff has tossed around the idea of hosting a spring plant sale to raise money for our program. We also want to take advantage of the enthusiasm that guests often have when they visit the garden for planting a garden of their own. Having plants for sale could help to maintain and extend that enthusiasm beyond this specific time and place, and help to develop patience, curiosity, and observational skills. What might we need to make this possible?

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Imagine that!

On my personal ESY vision board is a greenhouse.  Greenhouses come in countless shapes and sizes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. A simple, unheated structure could be set up for the primary purpose of growing plant starts for the ESY and for the community. A larger greenhouse (attached to the Museum itself) could be used to over-winter tender tropical plants (citrus, avocado, chocolate, banana, etc…), provide for a larger production space, and serve as a year-round teaching structure. However, my dream doesn’t end with increased production capacity.

My hope is that we will have a junior garden volunteer program in which part of their responsibilities would be to help with all aspects of plant selection, raising, and distribution. This dream is filed away in my multi-year slot, but there is no reason that we can’t start towards that goal now.

So, that’s one item on my dream board. Hopefully, I will have enough time and space this spring to produce enough extra plants so that this time next year when I hear that familiar voice behind me, there will be a plant for her to adopt.

Justin