Plant A Row for the Hungry – Story County, Iowa
Launched in 1995, Plant A Row is a national public service program of Garden Communicators International (formerly the Garden Writers Association of America). Since 1995, over 20 million pounds of produce providing over 80 million meals have been donated by American gardeners. All of this has been achieved without government subsidy or bureaucratic red tape – just people helping people. For more information on the national program click here.
Story County PAR in Ames Iowa began in 2004, and volunteers have been fighting hunger in Central Iowa by collecting and distributing over 89,000 pounds (49.3 tons!) of fresh garden produce to agencies in the Story County area. We distribute produce to MICA Food Pantry, Primary Health Care, Salvation Army, Food At First and Bethesda Food Pantry. We have also contributed to to Ames Community School Food Service for the Grab-and-Go meals they prepare for families to pick up.
Donate produce from a home garden by dropping it off at the Reiman Gardens Maintenance Building on Mondays from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. from June 28 through October 18. We also accept donations on the weekends at the Gardens’ Front Desk. For more information about volunteering, visit our volunteer page or contact our Manager of Volunteer Engagement at 515-294-8225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other ways to get involved:
- Collect left over produce from vendors at the Main Street Farmers Market at the end of the Saturday market.
- Help collect, weigh and distribute the produce to five local agencies in the Ames area.
- Assist with promotion through social media and local media outlets.
Although this was a challenging year with COVID-19, volunteers and gardeners decided to go ahead with our collection and distribution for Plant A Row with some safety modifications. Several of our gardeners planted more because the need for fresh produce was greater. Between June 29 and October 12, PAR collected and distributed 13,087 pounds of produce – far exceeding our goal of 8,000 pounds and smashing our previous record. Thanks to everyone who volunteered, grew produce, and distributed it!
Total amount donated:
Gardeners in the community – 9,864 lbs.
Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market – 1,329.7 lbs.
Reiman Gardens – 1,894.2 lbs
Food At First (in Ames, Iowa) currently consists of two parts: a free meal program, and a perishable food pantry. Distribution happens at the “Free Market”, which now has two locations: 611 Clark Ave (First Christian Church), and 3626 Ontario St. (Trinity Reformed Church). Food at First collects and gives perishable food away on the same day – distributions are at 4:45 to 5:30 PM every Monday and Thursday at First Christian Church, and 10:00 to 10:30 on Saturday mornings at BOTH locations.
Bethesda Community Food Pantry is located at Bethesda Lutheran Church. The church provides the facility and utilities, but no budget for the food pantry, thus, it is supported by many individuals and organizations. Many groups regularly give to the food pantry, both financial contributions and donations of food. The Bethesda Community Food Pantry has received donations from 20 Ames area businesses, 20 different congregations, 19 civic groups, 9 ISU employee-student groups, 4 non-ISU public agencies, and 7 schools and youth programs.
1517 Northwestern Avenue, Ames, IA 50010
Tuesday: 1pm-3pm, 6:30pm-8pm
Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) is a private, nonprofit organization serving children and families in central Iowa.
230 S. 16th Street, Ames, IA
Monday – Friday: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Can be visited once every two months. Photo ID required.
Ames Salvation Army Service Center, located at 703 East Lincoln Way, serves all of Story County. The center serves in a variety of ways including housing and utility assistance, a food pantry, assistance with prescriptions and transportation, and a representative payee program. The payee program provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of beneficiaries who need assistance in managing their own finances. For more information, call 515-233-3567.
Primary Health Care Ames Medical Clinic, located at 3510 W. Lincoln Way, Ames
Meet a Few of our Dedicated Gardeners
Susan Wolfe has been volunteering for PAR for several years and has given countless hours to the program for several years. She helps out in all aspects of the program – collecting donated produce from the farmers market vendors and assisting the distribution team on Monday mornings when they are short staffed. For the past five years, she has also been one of the generous gardens who grows and donates produce to P AR. She has a few gardens around Ames that she plants specifically for donation; she calls them the Garden Angel Project. One of these gardens is located near the Unity Church of Ames. Susan says this garden has “Guardian Angels” who live next door to the church who helped plant and care for the garden. Every year, Susan donates between 500 and 1,000 pounds of produce to Plant-A-Row.
Jim and Jeanne Roth plant a large garden and have been sharing their harvest with PAR for several years – they have donated literally TONS of vegetables! Last summer they donated 2,788 pound and this year they donated 7,255 pounds, which include a truckload of butternut squash!
Roger’s garden is a testament to the potential bounty a backyard garden in the city can yield. He grows a wide variety of vegetables and lots of them. Last summer he donated 1,015 pounds to PAR and this year he grew and donated 1,451 pounds!
Many thanks to these gardeners and others who share their produce with us so that we can help feed our community.