Grow Vegetables for the Hungry

How to donate extra fruit and vegetables from your garden to food banks

Have you ever found yourself in the vegetable garden and not knowing what to do with the extra produce? Well, the answer is simple: give it away to people who want it, can use it and will benefit measurably from its consumption.

In 1986, a Winnipeg couple named Ron and Eunice O’Donovan found themselves long on potatoes from their backyard garden. They looked at each other and said, “Why not” and took the extra lot to the local food bank on the off-chance that they would pass them on to people in need. The plan worked: the O’Donovans were greeted with open bushel baskets, which were soon loaded with the potatoes.

Days later, the two of them got a bigger idea: if giving fresh produce to the local food bank provides a worthwhile service in the community, then why not spread the word and get their neighbours to donate their excess produce too? And so it began. Since then, more than 1.4 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables have been given to Winnipeg Harvest food bank through the Grow A Row program.

More than two decades later this idea of donating extra produce to the food bank has become what is known as Plant a Row • Grow a Row for the hungry. Food banks are always looking to receive fresh local garden produce; donating your extras helps those in need.

It is easy to get started and there is nothing to fill out. All you need to do is pick your extras and bring them to the food bank; they will take care of the rest. Check with your local food bank to find out if they are open to receiving your extra bounty. Get more details at

I urge you to do this! Taking part in this program is a great way to get out and help your local community. It is something small that you can do and means a lot to someone in need.

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