SIKESTON -- With the onset of spring, a lack of fresh produce at local food pantries and soup kitchens is something backyard gardeners can do something about.
Mary Kroening, University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener program coordinator, is encouraging Missouri gardeners to take part in the national Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign.
"With well over 100 million gardeners in North America, it's obvious to see the impact gardeners can have a tremendous impact by just planting a little extra or donating the extra produce," Kroening said.
The Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign was started in the mid-1990s in Anchorage, Ala., by the Garden Writers Association of America, according to the association's Web site. Its goal is to employ the 70 million or more gardeners in the United States to plant an extra garden row or more, and then donate the extra produce during the harvest season to local relief agencies.
"If you usually put in four tomato plants, plant six to eight instead," Kroening said. "If you can't eat all the fruit from your tress, don't let it rot. Instead, donate it."
Dorene Johnson, executive director of Bootheel Food Bank in Sikeston, said most of the fresh produce the food bank receives is donated by the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, where offenders maintain a large garden. Currently very few individuals donate fruit and vegetables, but all are welcome to donate, Johnson said.
"We'd love to take it (produce) and give to people who could use it," Johnson said.
To learn more about donating fresh produce, contact the Bootheel Food Bank at 471-1818.