Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grow a little extra to help Charlotte's hungry

As you flip through seed catalogs and map out plans for spring and summer vegetable gardens, scale up and dream bigger. Plant more than you need, and then use the extras to help feed the hungry.
About 30 local gardeners have done that for Backyard Friendship Gardens (, which uses food donations to add fresh produce to plates for Friendship Trays, a meal delivery program for people in need.
With such modest numbers, there's plenty of room for growth in the 2-year-old program, said Henry Owen, one of the program's founders and program director of Friendship Gardens.
“There are so many more people that grow food in Charlotte and the surrounding areas that we could easily have hundreds of people involved,” he added.
Owen won’t be here to see that growth happen, though. He’s leaving to become executive director of the Nature Discovery Center in Houston. He starts there Jan. 12.
A bigger accomplishment for Owen, 31, was setting up 74 partner gardens hosted by local schools, churches and other nonprofits. Through all of its programs, Friendship Gardens collected almost 9 tons of fresh food so far in 2014.
Thom Duncan, a board member for Friendship Trays, will replace Owen, who believes these and other programs will reach even more gardeners and more of the hungry in the years ahead.
“I learned that gardeners are people who live in abundance,” Owen said. “They are giving and want to build their community, share with their neighbors, and they believe there is enough for everyone.”

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