Growing your own vegetables is good for a number of reasons, according to Marvin Makofsky of Plant a Row. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the community. And it’s good for you, he said.
It is a message he wants children to learn at a young age, which is why he’s helping children grow their own garden just outside Landmark on Main Street.
Makofsky, the chief vegetable garden executive for Plant a Row for the Hungry, was instructing children at the Port Washington Children’s Center to plant lettuce near the playground on a cool afternoon in early April.
“It’s cool weather, so we’re planting lettuce and peas and probably some spinach,” he said, adding that the garden will be used to plant tomatoes and peppers when the weather warms up. “Part of this is educating the community because many people don’t know that lettuce is planted now.”
In addition to helping out with planting and watering, the children are each given their own plant to take home. Doing this, Makofsky said, would encourage their parents to get involved. The surplus vegetables can then be donated to a food bank or soup kitchen.
Last year, he said, there were over 1,000 individual deliveries of family-grown plants to the organization’s garden center in Port Washington.
“The enthusiasm that the kids have for this is crucial to the success of it,” he said.
Of course, Makofsky encourages those who grow the vegetables to eat some of the produce themselves. He said that growing your own vegetables reduces your carbon footprint and provides higher nutritional value than produce purchased at a grocery store.
It also tastes better, he said.
“Once you taste those vegetables, you never want to go back to the supermarket,” Makofsky said.
Plant a Row is a national organization that seeks to provide fresh, nutritional food to hungry families. The Port Washington chapter was established seven years ago and Makofsky, who currently resides in Manhasset, said since then the group has produced 20,000 pounds of food for needy families.
Makofsky said Plant a Row had been working with the Children’s Center for five years. It is one of several programs that has Plant a Row teaming up with local organizations. Makofsky said he has worked with the Art Guild of Port Washington to paint pots around the area. He is also working with Residents Forward as part of the Youth Climate Summit to be held in Port Washington this month.
“We’ve been working with a lot of local organizations,” he said. “It’s a very interconnected process.”