Vegetable Gardening for the Hungry

Rows of vegetable plants, including these hanging tomato planters at Echter’s Nursery and Greenhouse, are ready for gardeners who want to participate in Denver’s Plant a Row for the Hungry effort. Echter’s, located in Arvada, Colo., is one of the sponsors of Denver’s Plant a Row campaign.

Denver’s Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign kicks off Saturday, May 15, and garden centers across the Metro area are ready.

Gardeners here–and everywhere–are encouraged to plant extra fruit, vegetables and herbs while gardening to donate to their local food pantries and soup kitchens.

Yesterday I was out and about picking up supplies for the free garden starter kits for the kickoff.

First, I stopped by Echter’s Nursery and Greenhouse, met Krystal Keistler, annuals manager, who gave me a stack of special vegetable plant coupons for the starter kits.

Then I headed to Whole Foods to pick up small paper bags to hold all the kit supplies from Heather Larrabee, who’s in charge of the local marketing and community relations. These bags are the perfect size for the starter kits and they’re compostable, too.

The last stop was Tagawa Gardens in Centennial. Beth Zwinak, retail manager, had left coupons and fliers for me to pick up.

I’m especially grateful to these sponsors for their help with this year’s event and hope gardeners will support these retailers, redeem their coupons and take advantage of their offers for free vegetable plants (with purchase).

Even if there isn’t an organized Plant a Row effort in your community, it’s easy to participate. Just plant extra in your garden, no matter what the size, to help feed the hungry in your community. Consider planting an extra container, if you do all your gardening on your balcony, deck or patio.

The Garden Writers Association Foundation recommends planting vegetables and fruits that travel well and are good keepers, like broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peas, green beans, tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplants, summer squash (including zucchini), winter squash, onions, beets, apples and pears. Herbs–and flowers–are also welcome additions.

Harvest vegetables at their peak and thoroughly clean the produce before donating to a food pantry, soup kitchen, church or other social agency. A link to a list of sites prepared by Food Bank of the Rockies is on the Plant a Row homepage.

If you’ve decided to participate in Plant a Row, would you please let me know by writing a comment here? I’d love to know what you’re planting and where you’ll be donating your produce.


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Another option if you are growing more food than you need is to visit – a site that helps diminish hunger by enabling gardeners to share their garden produce/herbs with neighborhood food pantries.

The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

Backed by and the USDA, more than 1,750 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

It includes preferred delivery times, driving instructions to the pantry as well as (in many cases) information about store bought items also needed by the pantry (for after the growing season). A free Ample Harvest iPhone app is also available.

If your community has a food pantry, make sure they are registered at

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