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Summer means fresh food, sharing the bounty
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Well folks, we have crossed over another milestone in our trip around the sun. It is officially planting season.

Nights are still cool, but I think we are going to be in the clear. And until we get warmer nights, plant growth will be a little slow. So be patient.

Planting a garden is one of the best things you can do in the summertime. Besides the fact that it’s a source of fresh food, it’s great exercise. It gets you outside and gives you a chance to teach children about nature and how to care for and grow plants.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to good health, but many times they are the last food to appear on our plates.

For many, it’s easier to buy the cheap, sugary foods to stretch a thin food budget. We see this many times with the participants in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in Hall County. To learn more about it, call the office and talk to the program’s instructor, Sandra Stringer.

Gardening can also fight hunger through community action.

North Hall High School student Katie Rose Dionne has established a new program called “Sow More Grow More” to combat the effects of hunger on area students and their families.

Throughout the school year, 16,000 students receive free or reduced-price lunches in the Hall County School System. During the summer, those children have to figure out how to fill in the gaps. Many times they don’t and go hungry.

To fight this problem, Dionne is encouraging gardeners to plant a little extra and donate it to the Community Food Pantry on Oak Street in Gainesville. The Girl Scout devised the plan while working toward her Gold Award, an equivalent to an Eagle Scout.

This will be the program’s first year, but Dionne hopes it will become part of the community for years to come. King Gore, executive director of the pantry, knows the program will go a long way to helping the 45 or more families who use the pantry.

Dionne will start accepting contributions for the “Sow More Grow More,” program from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 1 at the First Baptist Church on Green Street. Donations will continue to be accepted every Sunday until Oct. 26.

To drop off food, drive under the south portico and leave it in the bin. Dionne will ensure the produce stays fresh and is delivered to the food pantry.

I was impressed with Rose Marie’s poise and confidence about the program. She knows it will work and believes the community will get behind her to make it a success.

I encourage you to support her with your donations.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears weekly and on

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