By Erin Mills
The arrival of spring brings a burst of green, when flowers bloom and the earth teems with new life. Along with the warm weather comes a time that is perfect for cultivating a garden. Small scale gardens with fresh fruits and vegetables provide health benefits that far outweigh those offered elsewhere in the food industry. With the Montgomery Area Food Bank’s Plant an Extra Row program, farmers and home gardeners have the opportunity to provide fresh, healthy home-grown food for those in need.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are unbeatable when it comes to healthy food, and they can be tastier than your conventional store-bought produce, too. Food that is grown in a real garden, as compared to factory farming, is treated with care from seed to harvest. Careful attention can be given to the soil that is used, which can change the entire chemistry and health of the plant itself. Home gardeners or farmers can make the choice to avoid pesticide use and leave the fruit or vegetable on the vine to ripen longer. Processed foods that are donated to the Montgomery Area Food Bank, or MAFB, certainly have their benefits — they are inexpensive and take longer to spoil than fresh foods. However, the preservatives and high sugar levels in these foods are unhealthy and should be eaten in moderation. A balanced diet can include these types of foods, but it requires that fresh foods be eaten as much as possible.
Gretchen Kindrick from the Montgomery Area Food Bank shared the story of “Stone Soup,” which is about a neighborhood struggling with hunger. As the story is told, one woman started by putting a big pot outside with water, tomatoes and a rock. Neighbors began to notice her pot, and brought what they had in their kitchens to add to it. Shortly, the pot held enough food for everyone to eat a meal that was nourishing. The people of this community didn’t have enough to eat individually, but when working together, they were able to feed themselves and each other. With the Plant an Extra Row program, MAFB hopes to do the same thing.
Anyone can plant an extra row just for the Montgomery Area Food Bank; just one extra plant can provide portions of a meal for someone. Everyone deserves to have food that can truly sustain them for life, and the Plant an Extra Row program is a great opportunity to provide that.
The Montgomery Area Food Bank is located at 521 Trade Center Street. Come in and make your donation today!
Photo courtesy of Erin Mills