Tucked away on a dirt road in Clarkston is a farm dedicated to feeding the hungry. For almost twenty years the owner Bob McGowen and his wife, Barbara Hamilton have made sure a lot of hungry mouths were fed in the area around Pontiac.
They are PAR (Plant a Row for the Hungry) people, donating ALL of the produce to Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan, Pontiac.
PAR was started in 1995 by a garden writer and then President of the Garden Writer’s Association, Jeff Lowenfels of Anchorage, Alaska. In his weekly column he asked gardeners in his area to plant an extra row for a soup kitchen named Bean’s Cafe. Since the beginning, 14 MILLION pounds of fresh food have been donated through this program in local areas all over the United States. There is no government help with this program, it is all done by donations, volunteers and individual homeowners with gardens. For more information and to spread the word, see http://www.gardenwriters.org
Bittersweet’s wonderful 20,000 square foot garden always needs volunteers, like Bob Hannah….retired and needing a worthy activity, he is there most days helping out.
It is also a great place to learn about natural gardening, double digging for good soil and companion planting for high yields. Jim Tesnar is glad to share his techniques with volunteers. You would not believe the pounds of produce they obtain from this garden! They donated 3,700 pounds in 2008!
The garden isn’t only about food. McGowen likes it to look nice so volunteers will want to work there…so he planted flowers. He encourages volunteers to take a bouquet of blooms home for their table.
If you dig veggies (pun intended) and you can plant, weed, harvest, carry stuff…whatever…head over to Bittersweet Farm and help feed the hungry!