David Davis: Help fight hunger by gardening

Published 11:02 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Over the past year, I had the privilege to participate in Leadership Winchester.

Throughout Leadership Winchester, I was about to learn about many ways I can make a difference in my community. On one of the days of this program, we visited Clark County Community Services, where I learned how others in our community are working to address the issue of hunger.

When you think about hunger, you probably think about other countries or places around the world. I am very active in my church, and over the years, we have had many mission programs that have worked to address hunger around the world.

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However, as I was made more aware through my experience with Leadership Winchester, hunger is also a local issue we can address as a community.

Currently, Clark County Community Services is assisting about 1,200 families a month. Those families also include around 600 children.

We often overlook the expense of food, especially fresh vegetables. Incorporating fresh vegetables into the diet has many health benefits. For many, however, obtaining good quality fresh vegetables is a challenge.

Vegetables are perishable. Occasional donations of fresh vegetables to community services by grocery stores and distributors are appreciated, but often vegetable are only donated after they are not marketable because they are aged.

The most nutritious vegetables are those consumed with as little time as possible from the field to the plate. That is one reason it is good to purchase them from a local farmer at the farmers’ market.

For some in our community, this is an expense that is not feasible. Those who enjoy gardening can help others by participating in the annual Plant a Row for the Hungry sponsored by First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), or may consider growing a community garden.

Plant a Row for the Hungry is modeled after the national program which is administered by the National Garden Writers Association.

Residents of Clark County can plant an extra row in their gardens for fresh vegetables to be donated to community services. The fresh vegetables are put into food baskets that are distributed to Clark County residents who are in need of food. That’s really all there is to the program. Participants are asked to grow a little extra in their gardens and donate it to Plant a Row for the Hungry. Those who would like to participate can contact First Christian Church by calling 744-3181. They can provide row markers for the garden and will pick up any vegetables people wish to donate to the program.

Organizations, churches or individuals in Clark County may also consider conducting a community garden for the purpose of donating vegetables to Clark County Community Services.

The Clark County Extension Service will be offering a workshop on “How to Conduct a Community Garden” on Saturday, April 29, starting at 9 a.m. at the Clark County Extension Office. Anyone interested is invited to attend, but the first 10 organizations that register for and attend this workshop will receive a complimentary community garden starter kit that contains seeds and supplies. There is no cost to attend. Lunch will be provided by The Greater Clark Foundation, so pre-registration is required. If you would like to learn more or to register, contact the Clark County Extension Office by calling  744-4682.

David Davis is the Clark County Cooperative Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources.