Alanna Clempson is encouraging people to take part in Plant a Row Grow a Row.

Alanna Clempson is encouraging people to take part in Plant a Row Grow a Row.

Plant a row kicks off with workshop

Everyone is invited to learn tricks to successful veggie growing on Saturday afternoon, as master gardener Brian Minter hosts a workshop on soil health at Gwynne Vaughan Park.

Many people dream of transforming a section of their backyard into a thriving food garden.

Here’s a chance to finally do it — with renewed purpose.

Everyone is invited to learn tricks to successful veggie growing on Saturday afternoon, as master gardener Brian Minter hosts a workshop on soil health at Gwynne Vaughan Park.

It’s also an opportunity to launch the Plant A Row/Grow A Row program by Food Matters Chilliwack, where participants will be generously cultivating root vegetables for the local food bank.

Expert gardener or novice is not important, only the desire to help.

“Growing food for the food bank, how cool is that?” asked Alanna Clempson, Plant a Row/Grow a Row coordinator for Food Matters Chilliwack. “We’re feeding our own community.”

The target is root vegetables: beets, onions, potatoes, carrots, squash, turnips and more.

The advantage is that they are not as perishable as others, and they can sit in the ground for a few extra weeks if need be.

“They won’t bolt like the lettuces for example,” said Clempson.

Chilliwack is perfect for the Plant A Row program, and it has been run in Chilliwack in the past.

“We’re a farming community, with generations of families who know how to grow. There’s better potential for access to land to grow vegetables.”

Of course many urban dwellers have lost the art of gardening over the decades.

“It’s a life skill everyone should have. People need to know how to grow their own food.”

Four sessions in the last week of June, July, August and September will do double-duty as “garden harvest swap” opportunities for local gardeners, as well as “Plant-a-Row produce drop-off” events.

“Anyone growing food who has a surplus of veggies can trade and swap, and at the same time we’ll be accepting donations for the Plant A Row/Grow a Row program, which will not be swapped.”

Volunteers will be washing and weighing the donated produce, which will then go to the Salvation Army Food Bank program. Anything left from the swap will also go to the food bank.

In the meantime, on Saturday, they will start things off with the ‘How to turn a patch of grass into a thriving garden plot’ workshop – rain or shine – April 9, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Gwynne Vaughan Park. Seedy Saturday will follow the workshop, where gardeners will be swapping seeds, including heirloom varieties.

Park along side streets Bonavista or Fairview to avoid the bike paths on Williams, advise the organizers. The first 100 gardening fans to arrive on Saturday will receive a free garden-starter seed kit, and the first 30 families without access to a patch of grass will receive a free cedar planter, soil and seeds.  For more information contact foodmatterschilliwack.gleaning@gmail.com or 604-795-9880.