Plant a Row

There are many home gardeners in the greater Moses Lake area and asking them to help feed their neighbors was easier after receiving seed donations.  A few letters to seed companies yielded 220 pounds of garden seeds from across the nation. Two-thirds of these seeds were distributed to food bank clients.  A seed sorting party kicked off the growing season, which provided an opportunity to engage home growers, while also collecting volunteer contact information, and the chance to speak about the overall goals of Harvest Against Hunger.

The biggest hurdle in our varied rural communities was record keeping.  There are a lot of personal gardeners that have donated in the past and there was difficulty in distinguishing these past donors from the new donors prompted by Plant A Row. All donations are weighed as they come into a food bank and CSML was the test site for a separate weight sheet designated for Plant A Row donations only.  The numbers from 2013 reflected a significant increase in donated produce, although the Plant A Row program appeared rather unsuccessful.  This test illustrated that it may be easiest to compare numbers to previous seasons rather than trying to differentiate past donors, from new Plant A Row donations.
 
In 2015, CSML collected over 157 lbs of seeds for the Plant a Row Program. Besides distributing these seeds directly to interested people, the VISTA and volunteers created folders with assorted seeds to distribute to 16 of CSML’s partnering food banks in Central Washington.  Each folder contained an assortment of seeds for the food banks to redistribute to the families they serve. This allowed the program to reach out to other central Washington communities and promote the growth of local foods. By sharing seed resources, CSML demonstrated appreciation to these food banks for their commitment to CSML as the central distribution center for the Central Washington food banks.  Anyone who had a home garden as well as some extra produce would donate it directly to the food bank.

Community Services of Moses Lake (CSML) strives to empower the community so that “Friends help friends feed the hungry.” CSML houses the Moses Lake Food Bank and is the distribution hub for 33 partner food banks in 5 counties in Central Washington. These counties include the 3 largest agricultural producers in Washington; Yakima, Benton and Grant counties. In 2012 CSML distributed approximately 120,000 pounds of fresh produce. With the presence of the Harvest Against Hunger VISTA in 2013, that number increased to well over 300,000 lbs. of produce.  In 2014, only 68,750 pounds of produce were donated, but in 2015, over 99,675 pounds of produce was collected and distributed.  Overall, CSML has collected approximately 757,155 pounds of fresh produce from farmers in the area.


 

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