ORONO, Maine — Volunteer gardeners around the state have donated 100 tons of produce to charity through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger Program.
That was an increase of more than 56 tons over last year, Extension educator Barbara Murphy said in a press release.
“Extension volunteers, with the support of Extension employees, produced and gathered fresh fruit and vegetables for distribution to 45 Maine food pantries and soup kitchens,” Murphy, based in South Paris, said Friday. “We asked for an extra effort this year to attempt to meet the growing need, and our volunteer gardeners really came through. We couldn’t be more excited.”
Murphy oversees the program, which was renamed this year from Plant-A-Row for the Hungry to Maine Harvest for Hunger.
Volunteer gardeners in 13 counties this season donated 200,006 pounds of vegetables and fruit, which included nearly 9 tons of potatoes, she said.
The program engaged nearly 200 Master Gardener Volunteers across the state in growing, gleaning and distributing food for Maine residents with limited finances or resources to buy fresh produce.
Murphy said she has worked to raise awareness about the opportunity for backyard gardeners and others to “plant an extra row” to donate to one of the drop-off locations around the state.
“Local farmers are critical to the effort and donate thousands of pounds to the project,” she said.
The charitable garden harvest program was the 2010 winner of the Steven Gould Award for Service to the University of Maine.
For information and details on future participation, call Murphy at 800-287-1482 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.