SOUTH PARIS — The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Plant-A-Row for the Hungry Program has set a goal of collecting 125,000 pounds of fresh produce from volunteer gardeners across the state, a significant increase from the 87,319 pounds donated last year to food pantries, shelters and charitable organizations.

“With donations of high quality fresh produce, we can get there,” said Barbara Murphy, extension educator in the Oxford County office, who coordinates the program.

The program engages nearly 200 highly committed Master Gardener volunteers across the state in growing, gleaning and distributing food for Maine residents who are hungry. Since 2000, volunteers have raised, gathered and donated more than 350 tons or 703,609 pounds of fresh produce.

“During Maine’s growing and harvest season, Extension volunteers with the support of Extension employees produce and gather fresh fruit and vegetables for distribution to 45 Maine food pantries and soup kitchens,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the program is growing, but needs to grow more. She is working to raise awareness of the opportunity for backyard gardeners and others to “plant an extra row” to donate to one of many drop-off locations in Maine.

Murphy can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone at 800-287-1482 in Maine for information and details on participation.

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