Have You Considered Planting An Extra Row?
This weekend the warmer weather finally arrived in New England and I was able to get out and direct sow some seeds. As I often do when I am planting my garden rows, I hearken back to my time spent with one of my favorite celebrity gardeners, educators and communicators I have had the privilege of knowing, Jim Wilson.
During his lifetime, he was one of the most familiar faces of American home gardening. Perhaps best known as an author of 14 garden books and a lecturer on several gardening subjects, Jim also spent 13 years in garden television, prefiguring the current popularity of home gardening. He was a co-host on “The Victory Garden” on PBS and on Home and Garden Television’s “Great Gardeners.” He was the national spokesman for Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR), a program of the Garden Writers Association. A longtime member of GWA, Jim was named a Fellow in 1988 and elected to the Garden Writers Hall of Fame in 1995.
Through my job as a Product Manager with a soil media company, I was fortunate to have had an opportunity to spend many hours with Jim at tradeshows, symposiums, lectures and field days throughout the country. One thing I realized early on was that he loved helping others through gardening. Jim’s lifelong love of gardening — especially vegetables — had its start when he was a teenager during the Great Depression. He helped his father and older brothers grow and sell vegetables in order to feed their family. I also got the feeling there were many nights growing up in Mississippi, that Jim went to bed hungry.
This brings me back to why I thought of Jim this weekend and every time I plant. Jim selflessly served as the spokesperson for the Garden Writers of America Foundation’s Plant A Row for the Hungry program for many years because of his love of gardening, his unending desire to involve everyone in gardening and his belief that individual gardeners could make a difference in eliminating hunger in every community through a sharing of the bounty from gardening. Every year the Plant a Row for the Hungry Campaign, a public service by Americas Garden Writers, encourages their readers/listeners to plant an extra row of produce and donate their surplus harvest to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations to help feed America’s hungry.
So this season I am dedicating my garden to my friend Jim and the life lessons he has taught to me. I planted some extra rows of corn, radishes, bean, and brussel sprouts for my local food pantry. I know this very easy and simple gesture would have made Jim happy. He will forever be a legend in the gardening world and I am to this day one of his biggest fans. I never told him this, but he reminded me of my dad, quiet but extremely knowledgeable and kind.
I hope you too will consider planting some extra vegetables this year. I mean who doesn’t have extra tomatoes, cucumbers or squash to share and donate in the summertime?
To start a Plant-A-Row campaign, make a donation, or find a local committee you can contact the Garden Writers of America at 877-492-2727, or visit them online to learn more about the program at; www.gardenwriters.org/Plant-a-Row.