By Marianne Apfelbaum
Despite a recent spate of bad weather and a rascally rabbit that ate their bean seedlings, volunteers for Williston’s Plant A Row program are optimistic that they will have a good supply of fresh produce for the Williston Community Food Shelf again this year.
Sue Stanne and her fellow Extension Master Gardener June Jones lead the project with a group of about 10 volunteers and oversee a large plot at the Williston Community Gardens off Mountain View Road.
“We need to try to get caught up on everything, since the weather has been so wet lately,” Stanne wrote in an email to the Observer.
In addition to the community garden project, local families are encouraged to plant an extra row of vegetables in their gardens to donate to the food shelf.
Stanne noted that her group has planted tomatoes, peppers, beans (which have to be replanted due to the rabbit’s pilfering), squash, carrots, radishes, lettuce and eggplant, with seeds donated by American Meadows in Williston. In her email, she encouraged community members to join the group on its “Tuesday (5:00) workday.”
“We love having the fresh veggies right out of the garden because we only get them in the summer from Plant-a-Row and what our neighbors bring in and also because of their nutritious value which we are unable to offer our clients at other times of the year,” wrote Food Shelf President Cathy Michaels in an email to the Observer.
Michaels noted that summer is an especially tough time for struggling families.
“As always at this time of year, there is an increase in need because children are not in school, while at the same time incoming donations decrease. I encourage everyone to visit our newly designed website…There is now a DONATE button to make donating to the food shelf very easy,” she wrote.
Plant a Row, a national public service program launched in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association, was adopted by the Williston community in 2006. The program is a collaboration between Williston members of the University of Vermont Extension Master Gardener program, the Williston Department of Parks and Recreation and the Williston Observer. Produce from Williston’s Plant A Row program was initially donated to food pantries in St. George and Hinesburg before Williston founded its own food shelf in 2008.
“At the 4 and 1/2 year mark, I am still amazed at the dedication of the core group of volunteers we have working tirelessly to keep this food shelf running seamlessly. We started as a vision, and now we have built this amazing food shelf that will be here for a long time to come. It’s all about Neighbors helping Neighbors!” Michaels wrote.
The Williston Community Food Shelf—located at 300 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 115—is open Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more information, visit www.willistonfoodshelf.com.