Port Washington News: Harvest Garden Party
By Julie Prisco, Port Washington News | September 7, 2023
On Thursday, Aug. 24, Plant a Row for the Hungry hosted a Harvest Celebration to bring the organization’s volunteers and members together to celebrate their hard work and dedication. The celebration was hosted at the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults in Port Washington. The Helen Keller National Center is home to one of the largest Plant A Row for the Hungry gardens that Helen Keller National Center members help manage.
Plant a Row for the Hungry supplies fresh organic produce for community food pantries grown by Port residents and at garden/farming sites throughout Port Washington. For 12 years, Plant a Row has been working with schools, local non-profits and businesses to encourage home-grown gardening of fresh produce. The local partnerships have also helped create painted pots that are scattered throughout the community to grow some extra produce and spread Plant a Row’s message.
Plant a Row’s volunteers and students learn the art of gardening and the continuous message of why they’re doing it. In addition to providing pantries and families in need with fresh produce, Plant a Row’s mission is to mobilize the community to learn how home growing helps fight climate change and teaches kids the value of giving back. Going through the process of growing and delivering fresh produce is an enriching experience for all who participate.
Since its inception, Plant a Row has delivered more than 57,000 pounds of fresh produce to families in need, and over 250 residents have created more than 100 painted planters.
Despite the rainy weather, Plant A Row had about 70 volunteers and other supportive community members come to the Harvest Celebration. To celebrate, Plant a Row for the Hungry Founder Marvin Makofsky brought some of his festive fruit and vegetable hats for people to wear.
Representatives and volunteers from The Nicholas Center Navigators, Helen Keller Services and ReWild Long Island joined the celebration.
“The Navigators from The Nicholas Center have painted pots for us and maintain a bunch of them,” said Makofsky. “They have about 25 large pots where they grow, maintain and harvest vegetables. They also take care of about 24 pots along lower Main Street.”
Plant a Row has had a strong relationship with the Helen Keller National Center for over six years now. They have expanded their gardens at the center twice in the past few years and students and seniors from the center have painted pots. ReWild Long Island has supported and collaborated with Plant a Row as well, having some of their students help out at the Plant A Row gardens.
“When we have an event like this, you see that there’s a lot of support that we get and I make a point of thanking our volunteers and the artists that do the work on the painted pots,” said Makofsky.
At the Harvest Celebration, Plant A Row for the Hungry presented portions of its exhibit from the Port Washington Public Library’s Community Gallery. Earlier this year, Plant A Row and the library worked together to present ‘Art Drives Social Action’ which features art and testimonials of Plant a Row’s impact on the community. To spread awareness and grow support for Plant a Row, Makofsky came up with the idea to create a gallery as a retrospective of the work and art the organization has done over the years. Each poster in the exhibit is a collage of photos showing organizations planning and painting a planting pot or tending to a produce garden. In addition to the poster collages, rectangular signage of testimonials from 14 community leaders, organizations and elected officials are featured in the exhibit.
With the immense success and popularity of the exhibit, Makofsky and the library are working together again to enhance the gallery presentation. Makosfsky shared that they are looking into having an interactive audio/visual presentation added to the displays.
“We’re planning to have students interview all the people who gave us testimonials and record it and have them on QR codes attached to the display; we’re still early on as far as the design phase,” said Makofsky.
Creating the video portion of the exhibit will show the public people working in the gardens and teach the public a bit more about what volunteering for Plant a Row entails.
“The big deal that we’re trying to deliver a message on is when you are volunteering and doing work for people who especially are in need, you feel much more fulfilled,” said Makofsky. “A big part of our process this fall is to inspire the schools and the various religious institutions to step up even more than they already have. We want to inspire people to be involved in creating their own gardens and work with our programs.”
People at the Harvest Celebration saw the exhibit and met other Plant a Row volunteers. Previously, Plant a Row hosted a similar celebration in October, but this was the first year the event was hosted during the growing and harvest time.
“Everyone who is on the volunteer teams, many of whom haven’t met one another, have an opportunity to see that we are still in harvest time,” said Makofsky. “There’s still a lot of things growing, and they appreciate it even more when they see where it’s all coming from while it’s growing. It’s a great way to celebrate it. So we hopefully will do this every year.”
To learn more about Plant a Row for the Hungry and how to get involved, visit plantarowforthehungry.org