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A MILLION POUNDS OF PRODUCE
FOR THE HUNGRY

The Garden Writers Association of America (GWAA) and Home & Garden Television (HGTV) launched year six of the Plant a Row (PAR) for the Hungry campaign with the announcement that gardeners in the US and Canada have delivered more than a million pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits for the hungry.

GWAA President Judy Lowe thanked the thousands of gardeners whose contributions achieved the goal. "Your million pounds prove that gardeners can make a difference! We never imagined how far this simple idea was going to go—"

A communications campaign initiated by GWAA in 1995, PAR provides information and leadership to organize local committees that mobilize the community’s garden resources and communications. Through these local committees, gardeners are able to make a difference in their home communities. Now established in cities in 44 states, and going nationwide in Canada, PAR’s success led the GWAA in 1998 to set a goal of raising a million pounds by the millennium. Last year, HGTV joined the campaign as media partner and key sponsor.

HGTV is the leading cable network specializing in home gardening and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home projects, reseaching a viewer audience of over 59 million. Ken Lowe, CEO/founder of HGTV, said the need for help in taking care of the hungry is greater this year than ever before. "The numbers are heartbreaking. More than 36 million men, women and children go hungry in the US alone," he said. "Homelessness is up ten percent in spite of the booming US economy. At HGTV every day we encourage our viewers to Imagine What You Can Do. We’ll be asking gardeners all through the coming season to imagine how they can help."

HGTV’s financial support and donation of more than 500 public service announcements for PAR, coupled with growing public awareness of the need, doubled the pounds donated and the number of local campaigns, according to PAR National Director Jacqueline Hériteau.

"HGTV support and additional funding from the Scotts Company, the National Garden Bureau, and Fafard, Inc., gave us a toll free number—877 GWAA PAR—and enabled us to provide PAR campaign supplies to every local committee," Hériteau said. To help volunteers establish their campaigns, PAR provides a workbook and press kit, brochures, row markers, a video and other supplies based on feedback from successful PAR campaigns.

The Plant a Row for the Hungry idea was born in Anchorage, Alaska, with garden columnist Jeff Lowenfels, who later became president of GWAA. He asks his readers to dedicate one row in their gardens to raising food for the local soup kitchen, Bean’s Café.

Today hundreds of garden writers, including radio and TV personalities in the US and Canada encourage gardeners to plant an extra row. An early supporter, San Jose garden editor Joan Jackson, has raised a quarter million pounds of donations. PAR field networks bring together garden communicators, Master Gardeners and the gardening community including garden clubs, community gardens, botanical gardens and arboreta, school and church groups and local food banks.

Written by: Garden Writers Association of America


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