One local woman hopes residents will produce their own stimulus package by planting a vegetable garden, even planting an extra row so the needy might receive a share.
"Not only will they be helping themselves, but other people, too," said Pat Hathaway, the new president of the Augusta Council of Garden Clubs, which includes 20 clubs in Richmond, Columbia and Lincoln counties.
First lady Michelle Obama recently took part in groundbreaking ceremonies for a vegetable garden at the White House.
Her goal was simple: providing guests and her family with fresh, healthy food while sharing some of the produce with a soup kitchen.
"She must have heard about my stimulus package and picked up on it, too," Hathaway said with a laugh.
Hathaway will use the theme throughout the year as she visits local garden clubs and participates in community projects.
"Nothing beats fresh fruits and vegetables," said Hathaway, who said $1 of home-grown fruits and vegetables is equivalent to $25 worth of store-bought produce. "It's a tremendous savings."
The idea for the extra row stems from the Plant a Row for the Hungry project, which was launched in 1995 as a public service program of the Garden Writers Association and the GWA Foundation, according to the association's Web site.
Since then, more than 14 million pounds of fresh vegetables and herbs have been donated by gardeners to needy organizations all across America.
The GWA Web site notes that "according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in eight households in the United States experiences hunger or the risk of hunger."
There are an estimated 84 million households with a yard or garden in the U.S.
"If every gardener plants one extra row of vegetables and donates their surplus to local food agencies and soup kitchens, a significant impact can be made on reducing hunger," according to the GWA Web site.
Hathaway hopes gardeners will heed her call to action.
"The time is right and the theme is right," she said.
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