Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Prince William Staff and Master Gardener Volunteers have resumed Plant a Row (PAR) for the Hungry produce pickups at the Dale City and Manassas Farmers Markets. (Operations were previously on hold during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Many gardeners and farmer’s market vendors have excess produce during the height of the growing season, while at the same time people are facing hunger. PAR was established nationwide to help raise awareness of the food relief programs in the community and facilitate getting produce to those who need it. Surplus is picked up at the end of market day and delivered direct to distribution points to ensure fresh produce is provided to those most in need.
This year Nancy Berlin, Natural Resources Specialist for VCE sought new partnerships, allowing this valuable community service to continue with Prince William Food Rescue’s help by providing vehicles and staff to collect produce and deliver crates to the Dale City Market.
At the Manassas Market, Master Gardener Volunteers generously use their own vehicles and crates for pick-up and delivery.
Weekly produce collections range from 100-350 pounds a week at the Manassas Market while the Dale City Market ranges from 1000-6000 pounds of produce donated weekly, all during the growing season. Without the help of partners like Vulcan Quarry previously or now Prince William Food Rescue and their trucks and equipment, as well as dedicated Master Gardener volunteers, the team could not continue this service. As a result, this year, Prince William Food Rescue will have fresh fruits and vegetables for the weekly community food distribution to families and individuals in need throughout Prince William County.
A special thanks to Market Masters for Kim Dorman, PWC Parks and Recreation Department, and Melissa Williams of Historic Manassas, Inc. for their continued support in allowing VCE to continue this project. The County is especially grateful to the vendors at these markets who donate so much produce each week.
Plant a Row for the Hungry has been a service project for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers since 2001. Many very dedicated and tireless Master Gardener Volunteers have given over 4,500 hours in their time to this project. Since 2001, over 1.6 million pounds of produce has been collected in support of local community food banks.