The Mad River Valley Localvore Project and the Village Grocery are teaming up to encourage Valley residents to "Grow an Extra Row" this year. The idea of the program is to help supply fresh, local produce to area foodshelves. The program, co-sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and WCAX TV, provides free seeds to people willing to devote a little space in their garden to help a hungry neighbor.
In the Mad River Valley, people interested in participating can pick up their free seeds at the Village Grocery. Once the produce is grown and harvested the VG will be the collection point for the produce. According to Troy Kingsbury, owner of the store, "We will be collecting produce donations on Wednesdays and people dropping off vegetables will get a free 'summer treat' as a thank you."
The plan is that the Localvores will then pick up the produce on Thursday mornings and deliver it to the foodshelf. Robin McDermott, who is helping coordinate the project, says that, "Our local foodshelves are staffed by volunteers; being able to centralize the collection of the food and so it can be dropped off in one delivery will make it much easier for them. Troy is providing a great service to the community."
Kingsbury also plans to weigh and record the contributions and has offered a free tank of gas (up to $100) to the person or family who donates the most fresh food during the 2008 growing season.
Most of the free seeds are for easy to grow root crops like carrots, radishes, and beets. There are also a small number of heirloom tomato seedlings that McDermott donated that will be given out on a first come, first served basis. They will be available at the VG starting on Thursday morning, June 19.
Kingsbury is a big supporter of the local food movement in the valley. In season he offers shoppers local strawberries, lettuce and other produce from local farms. He is not worried about getting too many produce donations for the foodshelf. Although the produce is perishable, he says that if the foodshelf has too much produce in a particular week he will sell it in his store and give the money to the foodshelf or he will donate the food to a local school.
McDermott, co-founder of the Mad River Valley Localvore Project, points out that this is another program that the Localvores are involved in to help make local food accessible to all Valley residents regardless of their financial ability. "Earlier this year the Localvores donated $1200 dollars of local food to the Mad River Valley Foodshelf in the form of a $600 vegetable and fruit CSA from Hartshorn Farm and another $600 meat and egg CSA from Gaylord Farm. However, it is likely that CSAs will run out of funding sometime in August and we want to keep the stream of local food flowing to the foodshelf throughout the entire growing season. Our hope is that the "Grow an Extra Row" program will do just that."
People interested in learning more about this program can visit http://www.vermontlocalvore.org/ or stop by the VG. For information on the "Grow an Extra Row" program go to http://www.wcax.com/.