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Gardening to help the hungry

WHO THEY ARE: The Richland County Master Gardeners Association, USC students in professor Kevin Elliott’s “Ethics of Food” philosophy class and Harvest Hope Food Bank volunteers.

WHAT THEY ARE DOING: Growing produce in raised beds at Harvest Hope’s Shop Road facility. It’s part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign, which encourages gardeners to grow extra produce and donate it to local food banks or service organizations to help feed the needy. They also are volunteering at Harvest Hope and encouraging other gardeners to make a pledge to donate produce or money. Two USC Honors College students are organizing and helping with the logistics of the program as part of their senior thesis.

The winter crop of mustard greens was harvested Sunday, bagged and delivered to Harvest Hope, where it will be offered to families in need. This summer, tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans will be grown in the beds.

WHY? Elliott said he likes to incorporate service learning in his classes. After meeting Ryan Nevius of the Richland County Master Gardeners, they decided to work on the project together, along with other volunteers.

“It’s been great timing in that it’s applicable right now. People need help, and students like to have the opportunity to help out,” Elliott said. “Living ethically means you develop ethical traits. ... Going out and doing service and getting a feel for it, students will want to do it in the future.”

THEY SAID IT

“It makes people aware of the hunger out there. It increases awareness on different levels. ... It harkens back to the Depression and to victory gardens. We’re thrilled Michelle Obama took our lead.”

— Ryan Nevius, Richland County Master Gardeners Association

“It teaches you about the hard work the small farmers put in and makes you want to buy from them.”

— Scarlett Nolen, a USC junior from Naples, Fla.

HOW IT’S GOING: So far, about 150 local gardeners have pledged to grow extra for the hungry.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: You can pledge to grow produce and drop it off at a local agency that helps feed the hungry. For more information and a list of groups that help in the 20-county region served by Harvest Hope, see harvesthope.org. Cash donations also are accepted, along with plants, soil, seeds or other needed items.

— Megan Sexton

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