Our Mission Statement
America’s Grow-a-Row’s mission is to positively impact as many lives as possible through a volunteer effort of planting, picking, rescuing, and delivering free fresh produce. At America’s Grow-a-Row we:
- Provide fresh, healthy produce to those in need
- Educate people of all generations about hunger and ways to help
- Introduce our youth to farming and healthy eating
- Cultivate tomorrow’s leaders to give back
- Contribute to the sustainability of agriculture
What We Do…
Planting & Harvesting
We GROW, GLEAN & GIVE away free fresh produce by organizing groups to plant and harvest from our own farms and our partner farms. (See locations below.) At each visit we provide a short presentation about hunger issues and healthy eating.
Free Farm Markets
Throughout the season (mid-July through October) we deliver produce every other week to food desert areas (areas where people lack access to healthy, fresh, affordable produce) in Newark, Jersey City, and Camden to set up a Free Farm Market. By partnering with organizations in each of these cities, we can connect with residents in need of produce and thus help address issues of diabetes, obesity, and other health concerns that are often associated with food desert areas and financial hardship.
Inner-City Youth Days
We partner with the Community Food Bank of NJ and our Free Farm Market partners to have children’s groups from inner cities of NJ to spend a few hours at our farm harvesting produce they can take home to their families and communities. These visits occur in the summer and also include time for nutrition lessons and fun physical activities. This year they will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays between July 16th and August 29th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or see more information about signing up here. A basic background check will be required.
Off the Field Gleaning
Every day, our volunteers rescue “not quite retail perfect” produce from ShopRite stores in Clinton and Flemington to deliver it to local food pantries in New Jersey.
Winter Education Presentations
During the off season, we give presentations about America’s Grow-a-Row and deliver educational programs (on local, national, and world hunger; nutrition; and the environment as it relates to food) to schools, faith-based organizations, work places, and more. Our goal is to connect with groups that visit us in the field so they can better understand the issues our communities face and then take steps to improve these conditions.
Where We Do It
- Peaceful Valley Orchards - Pittstown, NJ (our main location)
- Milford, Alexandria Township Farm - Milford, NJ (owned by AGAR)
- Valley Crest Farm and Preserve - Annandale, NJ
- Longmeadow Farms - Hope, NJ
- Riamede Farm - Chester, NJ
- Ort Farms - Long Valley, NJ (new in 2012!)
How It All Started
This program started in 2002 with a small plot and a single volunteer (Chip Paillex). After seeing a plea from the Flemington Food Pantry requesting that any gardeners donate excess produce, Chip and his daughter Kyra, who was four years old at the time, cultivated their own garden and donated about $3,000 worth, or 120 pounds, of produce that year. From these humble beginnings, we’ve grown into an organization that has donated a total of 1.7 million pounds of produce in 11 years through the active participation of more than 2,100 volunteers!