Got Vegetables? Grow-A-Row wants you!

Submitted by Ande Finley.

Growing extra vegetables in your home garden? Grow-A-Row, managed by volunteers from the Lopez Locavores, is accepting donations of green beans, peas, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, summer squash, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, celery, tomatoes, carrots, winter squash, dry beans, and herbs through October. Drop off of produce at Woodmen Hall is Tuesdays from 9-10:30 a.m. with pickup from 10:30 a.m. to noon when cleaned and packaged produce will be available to the community on a first-come-first-served basis.

Back in 2010, Denise Clark (then McIntosh) was inspired to create a Grow-A-Row project on Lopez after attending a Lopez Community Land Trust Food Charrette and learning of food needs here. Through posters designed by Ruthie Thompson-Klein, the island heard about this unique idea to grow an “extra row” in their home gardens, even in winter, to provide fresh vegetables for those in need. To get the food out into the community, Denise worked with the Lopez Family Resource Center and the Lopez Senior Center as well as WIC, a federally funded health and nutrition program for women, infants, and children.

By 2012, Dale Shreve’s elementary school class had taken over the program as a class project and that summer, Valerie Yukluk and Suzanne Berry, the two school gardeners for the L.I.F.E. program kept the program going with Denise’s help. Grow-A-Row morphed into Lopez Fresh where gardeners were able to drop off their excess produce at the Family Resource Center.

When the pandemic hit, the Locavores took over the distribution and were given permission to use Woodmen Hall. In 2020, Grow-A-Row brought in over 5,000 lbs. of produce all donated by Lopez gardeners. Each week dozens of people were able to enrich their diets with fresh, healthy vegetables and fruit. And if the food being brought in so far is any indication, we’ll be seeing the same astonishing amount being distributed in 2021!

Another important aspect of Grow-A-Row is the addition of all this fresh produce to folks who subscribe to the Meals On Wheels program. The Lopez Senior Center has given the Lopez Locavores the use of the Woodmen Hall kitchen to package the produce to be sent out each Wednesday with their meals.

So, if you have surplus vegetables and fruit, bring them to Woodmen Hall, Tuesdays from 9-10:30 a.m. through October. All donations are welcome and accepted with thanks… even every one of those darn zucchinis!