Grow a Row plant sale Saturday aimed to encourage winter plots

Food bank growers urging residents to harvest food for themselves, others

PORT TOWNSEND — The Food Bank Growers Network is hosting a benefit plant sale on Saturday in the hopes of encouraging winter harvests both for individual households and for the four food banks of Jefferson County.

“It’s possible to grow food every month of the year here,” even in February and early March, said Barbara Tusting, organizer of the sale.

The Grow a Row Winter Growing Plant sale will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Birchyville farm, 206 Hancock St. in Port Townsend.

The farm is one of several that contribute organic produce every week to the Jefferson County Food Banks, which are the Port Townsend, Tri-Area, Quilcene and Brinnon food banks.

Hundreds of cool-season vegetable starts and seeds, as well as herbs, perennials, ornamental plants, fruit trees and other plants will be offered at the sale.

Prices will begin at $2 per plant and go up, Tusting said.

“Mixing flowering plants with your vegetables can attract pollinators and other beneficial insects,” she said in a press release.

The Food Bank Growers Network, formerly Food Bank Farms and Gardens, also is inviting gardeners to “grow a row” of winter vegetables to contribute to area food banks.

The volunteers are encouraging people to grow fresh produce for themselves and — if they have the space, the energy and the inclination — add a row to donate to food banks.

“Our main push is for people to help us grow for the food banks this winter,” Tusting said Thursday.

“They ran out of fresh produce last winter. There was none to be had.”

Gardeners can get advice through the growing season from the group, and, for this sale only, purchase kits that include row covers and hoops for their gardens at cost.

The kit covers a 10-foot row to shelter plants from wind, pets and minor freezes. The covers can help extend the growing season, Tusting said.

Growers also could hire volunteers to weed their gardens.

“If just half of the residents of Port Townsend devoted a single 10-foot row to growing produce to share with the community, that would equal a row of fresh vegetables seven miles long,” said Mary Hunt, manager of the Red Hen Food Bank Garden just outside of Port Townsend, in the release.

The garden, once known as Rain Coast Garden, contributes many pounds of food to the food banks, Tusting said.

The speciality of the garden is tomatoes, Trusting added, saying that Hunt has continued the method developed by former garden manager Dick Schneider and the garden produces “tons of tomatoes” in pots in greenhouses.

The Food Bank Growers Network is an almost entirely volunteer-led group of organic gardens dedicated to supporting food security throughout Jefferson County.

To volunteer, or for more information, go to www.FoodBankGrowers.org.

For more information about the food banks, see jeffersoncountyfoodbanks.org.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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