Williston begins ‘plants a row for the hungry’

Observer staff report

Avery Caterer tossed the potato spuds into the trench like a gardening pro.

Last Thursday the 10-year-old, along with mother Kristin Caterer and brother Ethan, 8, quietly kicked off the Williston Plant a Row for the Hungry program by planting a few extra seeds in their community garden plots.

“It will really help the community I think,” Avery said. “The hungry people will have organic food.”

Williston residents are invited to plant an extra row of seeds in their vegetable gardens for donation to food shelves later in the summer. Residents need only deliver the produce to bins behind the Town Hall Annex; volunteers will then deliver goods to either the St. George; Hinesburg; or Burlington food shelves.

The Williston Observer is partnering with the Town of Williston Departments of Recreation and Public Works and the Williston In Bloom committee to organize the program.

“There’s a big need out there,” Doug Gunnerson of the Hinesburg Food Shelf said. In addition to serving Hinesburg residents, the food shelf serves people from neighboring communities like Williston, St. George, Huntington, Starksboro, and Charlotte.

Donations to the Hinesburg Food Shelf are down $3,000 to $5,000 from a year ago, Gunnerson said, yet there is a 20 percent increase in clients since last year.

“A lot of the new people coming in, they just can’t make ends meet,” Gunnerson said.

According to the U.S. Census 2000, Chittenden County was home to more than 26,000 people earning 185 percent of the federal poverty level or less – the level at which individuals qualify for food assistance. For a family of four in 2006, for example, 185 percent of the federal poverty level is an annual income of $35,798 or less.

Gunnerson said the number of families seeking assistance at the Hinesburg Food Shelf has more than doubled in the last five years. The food shelf sees an average of 60 families a month.

“People are out there making a choice: ‘Do I eat today? Or do I pay this doctor bill?” Gunnerson said. “‘Or do I pay the insurance bill for the car? People are making hard choices.”

Williston Observer Publisher Marianne Apfelbaum said she hasn’t planted a vegetable garden since she was a kid, but she’ll be planting zucchini and cucumbers this year as part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry program.

“If you’ve never planted a garden, this would be a good time to try it because it’s for a good cause,” Apfelbaum said. “We hear of all kinds of people starving all around the world, and there are people hungry right here in our community. This is something concrete we can do to help.”

Plant a Row for the Hungry is a grassroots program created by the national Garden Writers Association.

Williston Plant a Row for the Hungry Program

I want to Plant a Row for the Hungry.

I will plant the following foods and deliver the harvest to the bins behind the Town Hall Annex on Thursdays over the summer: _________________________________

I can’t plant a row, but I’d like to help by making one delivery on a Friday morning this summer to the food shelf in St. George, Hinesburg or Burlington.

Name ____________________________

Phone ____________________________

Copy and Paste and email to: :

kim@willistonobserver.com with “Plant a Row” in the subject line