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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Cary Girl Scouts Fight Hunger One Tomato Plant at a Time

Thanks to Junior Girl Scout Troop 1196 in Cary, a whole bunch of tomato plants have new homes, complete with instructions for how to grow them and then donate some of the tomatoes to those who don’t have access to fresh foods! It’s all part of the girls’ “Plant a Row, Give a Row” project as they worked to earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award.

Girl Scout Troop 1196 toured the Weswtern Wake Farmers’ Market in Cary.

This group of 13 fifth graders has become pretty savvy in the last year about hunger in Wake County and how important nutritious, locally and sustainably grown food is to help fight hunger. Led by troop leader Janice Crawford, the girls had visited the Western Wake Farmers’ Market in Cary last September for a tour and to shop for fresh foods, with money they had earned from doing chores, to donate to the market’s Farmer Foodshare. Through this program at several area farmers’ markets, shoppers and farmers donate local foods, which are then distributed to hungry people in need in the area. The girls then visited with the produce manager at a Harris Teeter grocery store and learned how far some foods travel—even from Holland–before they reach the store. The troop thought about how plants need to be picked before they are ripe and how they lose nutrients as they are trucked across the nation and the world.
A trip to Redbud Farm in Burlington, N.C., for some down and dirty farm work and fun capped off their tours. The girls helped harvest more than 500 pounds of fingerling potatoes! They also picked sweet potatoes and beans for part of their dinner and learned about local sustainable farms. 

“Plant a Row” Project

Planting at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle farm.

Soon it was time to brainstorm activities for the Bronze Award Project. “The girls were immediately drawn to hunger,” Crawford said. “They talked about littering and cleaning up environment too, but half of the girls kept bringing up the hunger issue and how to get people healthy food. Our tour of the market, Harris Teeter and the trip to Redbud made a really big impact on them. The fact that they had to earn their own money for chores to donate for Farmer Foodshare really resounded with them. “
So the girls developed their plan. They each planted a flat of seeds at a Girl Scout meeting, then took them home and nurtured them. In the meantime, they wrote and developed a brochure about their project and planned how they would distribute the seedlings to people and educate them about how they could grow foods to then donate them to help feed hungry people.
A few weeks ago, the time had come–the seedlings were ready. Some of the girls went door to door in their neighborhoods, while some returned to the farmers’ market (photo above, right) to give away free tomato plants and the brochures on how to care for them, donate foods, save seeds from their produce and pass along the information.
“In the past, the Bronze Award Project was a straightforward service project, but now the girls must identify a need within the community and find ways to address it in a sustainable manner,” Crawford said. So the development of the brochure and the distribution of that with the free plants was a key component to making this a sustainable effort. The girls also worked at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle farm this past Sunday (photo at left) to spend some time in a local community garden, and they plan to return to Redbud Farm this spring to help plant potatoes.
AHA commends these girls for their work to educate people about growing and donating local, healthy foods and supporting local farmers! Perhaps they will inspire other kids to carry on their good work!

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