Challenging season doesn’t keep youth, corporate groups from volunteering
PITTSTOWN — Scout Day at America’s Grow-a-Row main location in Pittstown turned out to be one of the best days in a difficult summer.
Monday, Aug. 20, saw Girl Scouts from nearby Annandale and other children harvesting bell peppers that grew large with the persistent rain.
Volunteers harvest at Grow-a-Row six days a week and occasionally on Sunday, Erica Stevenson, a part-time seasonal employee of the farm, said.
“We have corporations, school groups, kid’s days,” she said.
A graduate of Rutgers with a degree in environmental policy, the Mountainside resident’s other job is coaching gymnastics.
She said Grow-a-Row came to a career fair at the university and was immediately interested.
Once the volunteers harvest the vegetables, they deposit them in a large container and the farmer takes them down to a storage barn where they wait for pick-ups from one of a number of food banks throughout the state.
America’s Grow-a-Row was founded by Chip Paillex, now president, who started by cultivating his own garden with his then 4-year-daughter, Kyra.
It spread to the Pittstown farm and partner farms, Alexandria Township Farm in Milford, Longmeadow Farm in Hope, and Riamede Farm In Chester, that dedicate portions of their harvests brought in by a total 9,100 volunteers, according to the website.
In 2017, the program donated over 1.5 million pounds of farm fresh produce to families in need in New Jersey, New York City, and eastern Pennsylvania.
One mission of Grow-a-Row is to bring in children from food desserts to volunteer and learn about nutrition.
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