FREEHOLD – Monmouth County food pantries have been receiving an extra source of sustenance with the growth of the Monmouth County Plant a Row for the Hungry Garden. Created in 2006 by the Master Gardeners of Monmouth County and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the garden has donated 29,000 pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries over the years.
The creation of the garden was a response to a national initiative by the Association for Garden Communicators, which encouraged all gardeners to dedicate a row of their garden to produce for local food banks and food pantries, according to Monmouth County officials.
“Monmouth County’s Plant a Row Garden is completely devoted to producing produce for local food pantries and educating the public on the needs of our community,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “It has been amazing to see how much the garden has grown since it was started. Originally the garden yielded a little more than 1,000 pounds of produce each year. Now, it is providing 3,000 pounds of produce.”
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently took a tour of the garden, where they got a chance to see the produce, growing in the 2,000-square-foot garden. The garden grows various goods including cucumbers, squashes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, as well as snow peas, radishes, kale and others in the cold weather seasons.
They also toured the Junior Master Gardener garden, which is used to teach children in Monmouth County how to garden. Kids in the program can grow their own produce in their designated plot and bring it home to their families if they want.
“This garden is a great resource for our community and the garden truly embodies the spirit of our Grown in Monmouth program,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry. “The produce from the garden is grown by Monmouth County residents enrolled in our County’s Master Gardener program and distributed to local food pantries. The Food pantries do not usually receive donations of fresh produce so they rely heavily on what they receive from the Plant a Row garden.”
You can find this special garden at the Agriculture Building, 4000 Kozloski Road in Freehold. The County’s Master Gardener program helps to maintain the garden.
For more information on Monmouth County’s Master Garden program, visit visitmonmouth.com or call 732-431-7260.