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Plant a Row for the Hungry program to begin in county

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Denise Cantlin, a member of the Saline County Master Gardeners, started some tomato plants in her greenhouse that she will soon transplant to her outdoor garden. The vegetables, along with other produce she chooses to grow, will be used as part of the Plant A Row for the Hungry program the gardening group is beginning this spring to help feed families and individuals in Saline County.
Members of the Saline County University Outreach and Extension's Master Gardeners group are looking forward to adding rows and plants to their gardens this year.

Some members have already planted a few seeds and are waiting until the weather warms up so they can transplant the seedlings in their outdoor gardens. But what the gardeners are looking forward to most is giving away part of the produce through the Plant a Row for the Hungry program.

"We felt there is a definite need for this and it shows in the high percentage of students on the (free and reduced) lunch program we have in this county as opposed to statewide," said committee member Millie Hitt. "We're just a group of volunteers and that's the reason we're coming together on this."

The group of about 26 master gardeners also wants to see the program extended throughout the community so it is encouraging others to participate.

"Whether it's a row or a couple of plants, we'll use it all locally, giving it to food pantries and senior centers and letting them do the disbursement," said Nelson Hufford, program committee chairman. "We've got row markers to give out too."

One of the gardeners, Evelyn Laxson of Marshall, hopes to see her own garden become a community garden with lots of Plant a Row plants.

"Anybody who wants to come help can come help," she said, adding she doesn't can her produce anymore. "This might get more kids involved if their families are planting there too."

Other gardeners in the group hope to get children and youth involved in the gardening project by providing educational presentations at area schools and inviting the young people to help with the Plant a Row program.

"We hope to keep this program going the entire growing season, spring through fall" said Denise Cantlin, who is a master gardener along with her husband Rex. "And if some of the farmers will plant extra corn or set aside corn for this project, they can just let us know and we'd be more than happy to go out on the farm to harvest it."

Gardeners participating in the program are advised to either take the fresh fruits and vegetables to a local food pantry or contact the Saline County University Outreach and Extension office to have a master gardener pick them up.

Contact Naomi Campbell at


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