Kelowna chef wants to help families in need

Jon Garratt encourages all local growers and gardeners to help give fresh produce to those living on low incomes.

Local chef Jon Garratt challenges all growers and gardeners to plant an extra row of produce and help local families.

Kelowna chef Jon Garratt has challenged all growers and gardeners to plant an extra row of produce and help local families.

“BC’s dieticians report that fresh produce is increasingly beyond the reach of many low-income and working households,” says Lenetta Parry, associate executive director of the Kelowna Community Food Bank.

“Too many children and seniors are not getting the nutrition they need. Our Plant a Row Grow a Row program provides fresh, locally grown produce, through it; we strive to improve the nutritional quality of the food that we distribute.”

The food bank has seen a steady and significant increase in donated produce, bringing in more than 98,000 pounds of produce since the program’s inception in 2004.

“The Okanagan Chef’s Association is a strong supporter of local food and programs like Plant a Row Grow a Row,” says Garratt.  “We live in one of the most fertile valleys in B.C.; there is an abundance of fresh produce from May until October.”

Garratt is asking growers from large nurseries to backyard gardeners to plant an extra row for the food bank.  “The food bank receives about 20,000 pounds of produce over the summer, this year we would like to double that.”

In April, Garratt and local film maker David Hughes shot a video to promote the Plant A Row Grow A Row program.  Their video has been seen by over 30,000 people on the Internet.

Garratt is hoping to inspire a grass roots passion for urban gardening.  “We are raising a generation entirely on processed food,” he says.  “I grew up eating fresh vegetables from my Grandparent’s garden.  There has been a huge loss of skill and connection to our food supply.  Too many kids don’t know where their food comes from.”

Last week, Garratt kick started Plant A Row Grow A Row with the first annual tomato party at the food bank.  “Thanks to the Greenery Garden Centre, we distributed 50 potted tomato plants to families.   I want kids to experience that same home grown freshness.”

Garratt created a Facebook page where new gardeners can connect, share pictures, recipes and ask him questions.

Produce can be dropped off at the Kelowna Food Bank, 1265 Ellis St., Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.