Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network / Réseau agroalimentaire de l'Est ontarien

Grow an Extra Row

Grow-A-Row is a program operating in many Canadian communities. It provides private and commercial gardeners the opportunity to grow an extra row of vegetables or fruit in their gardens, planter boxes or containers and to share the harvest with neighbours in need by donating the produce to the local food banks and meal programs.

It is best to make an arrangement with your preferred food bank in advance to see what they need, understand what volumes they can handle, and discuss pickup or delivery. Checking ahead of time will ensure that your bounty isn’t going to waste.

Share your Story

The EOAN encourages all farmers to contact their local food bank. Secondly, we want to publicly celebrate the participating farmers and food banks. Please share your news with us. We will ensure that you receive the recognition that you deserve.

Ferme Houle Farm, a member of the EOAN in Curran, takes the concept to a new level. André Houle challenges every farmer and gardener to "Grow an Extra Row" to donate to the Food Bank of their choice.

André partnered with the Agapè Center, another EOAN member in Cornwall, for farm's donations and offers to help coordinate possible drop-off locations for other farm donations if needed. Ferme Houle Farm kicked off their Facebook campaign on April 1st.

Good Food Garden and the Vankleek Hill Food Bank, both EOAN members in Vankleek Hill, have added their own spin to “Grow a Row”. For one, Peggy McDonald of Good Food Garden plants enough for extra CSA baskets specifically to donate to the Vankleek Hill Food Bank. Secondly, she also has a program in place where CSA clients can donate any unused weeks to the local food bank as well. This allows Good Food Garden to offer a wide selection and a good quantity of vegetables for donation.

The Vankleek Hill Food Bank agrees that Good Food Garden has a great idea. The CSA format delivers fresh vegetables on a weekly basis throughout the growing season. The clients get to choose the vegetables that they like and will use. The VKH Food Bank showcases the large variety of vegetables grown locally, offers recipes for lesser known veggies, and encourages healthy eating. An added bonus is that there is less waste when clients choose what they like! So whether you “Grow a Row” or “Grow a CSA basket” your local food bank will be grateful for the support of local farmers.

In 2021, Community Food Share, another EOAN member serving Stormont and Dundas counties, partnered with Cooter’s Automotive in Berwick as their CFS Stormont garden produce depot. CFS always welcomes "Grow a Row" produce, particularly carrots, potatoes and onions and apples. By receiving these produce staples, we save money to purchase other necessary items that we supply to maintain our healthy choice model. Last year, CFS was fortunate to receive a donation of seed potatoes that a local 4H club grew, packaged and delivered to the warehouse.

Financial Incentives to Share the Bounty

2022 SEEDit Grant - A Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group initiative.

COMMUNITY GARDENS, not owned by an individual or business, that share their harvest with local food security programs can apply for a grant ranging from $500-$1000. Not-for-profit organizations, charities, or organized community groups with a board are eligible to apply. Applications are now open until May 27th, 2022.

HOME GARDENERS can register May 9th, 2022 for a $50 voucher to be used at select garden centres on items related to food-producing gardens such as seedlings, seeds, and soil. Participants are to then share a portion of the food they grow with their local food bank, community group or neighbours. Open to Ontario residents; first come, first serve; 1 per household. Must be used between April 29th & July 31st, 2022.

Connecting Local Farmers with Local Food Relief Providers

As part of Eco Farm Day 2022, the EOAN hosted a session to connect farmers and food producers to the food security and relief providers such as food banks, municipal residences, Meals on Wheels, home delivery programs, etc. This sector has traditionally relied on wholesale supply chains, where food comes from grocers and industrial sources far away. They are now expressing interest in local sourcing including donation programs of excess crops, food recovery programs, "grow an extra row" programs, planned purchases, and spot purchases.

The recorded session is now available. This is your chance to understand and connect with food relief providers. We will hear from the Vankleek Hill Food Bank, the Agapè Center in Cornwall, and Community Food Share serving Stormont and Dundas Counties.