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Thursday, July 14, 2005 02:22 am

gardening

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Plant a Row for the Hungry, a national program promoted locally by the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners, encourages all vegetable gardeners and commercial growers to donate extra produce for the poor. Clean, fresh produce — especially melons and other fruits, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, carrots, and beans — is sought.

In this area, the main beneficiary of the program is the Central Illinois Foodbank.

“Summer is a particularly difficult for families, as they must find a way to replace free or reduced school lunches,” says Pam Molitoris, Foodbank executive director. “We are so grateful for partners such as Plant a Row for the Hungry, who help us address this need by providing nutritious, fresh produce for families throughout the summer.” The Foodbank distributes nearly 4 million pounds of food each year to feeding and after-school programs in 21counties in central Illinois.

Any amount of produce is accepted. Take donations to the Central Illinois Foodbank, 2000 E. Moffat Ave. in Springfield, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The Plant a Row committee will also be hosting Saturday collections 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at two Springfield sites:

• Green View Nursery, 2900 W. Jefferson St., on July 16, Aug. 20, and Sept. 17.

• First Congregational Church, 2100 S. Bates Ave., on July 16, 23, and 30 and Aug. 6, 13, 20, and 27.

To arrange for produce pickup or other options, call the Central Illinois Foodbank at 217-522-4022 or the U of I Extension Sangamon-Menard office at 217-782-4617.

Contributions to the Foodbank are tax-deductible and receipts will be provided on request.

In 2004, the Sangamon-Menard Plant a Row program helped collect 35,000 pounds of fresh produce for the Foodbank. Produce was donated by local gardeners, vendors at the downtown farmers’ market, and master gardeners who have planted, maintained and harvested produce from dedicated Plant a Row gardens.

Tea time

Learn to add the refreshing flavors of garden-grown herbs to tea at a program offered by the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners.

Participants in “Herbs for Teas” will learn how common culinary herbs such as rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme, and basil may be blended into teas. Other recommended herbs include lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemongrass, mints, bee balm, and scented geraniums.

The free program, presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, will be held in the demonstration gardens located in front of the University of Illinois Extension Building at the fairgrounds. For more information, call 217-782-4617.

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