Growing together: Plant A Row gallery returns with notable work from high school volunteers

Growing together: Plant A Row gallery returns with notable work from high school volunteers
Jonathan Gold interviewing Sister Kathy of Our Lady of Fatima with Max Kabot. (Photo courtesy of Sandrine Gold)

For nearly 15 years, Plant A Row For The Hungry has flourished in Port Washington as a combatant of local food insecurity and its growth as an organization will be expressed in a new local gallery exhibition featuring the notable work of high school volunteers.

“It feels good to be able to help Plant A Row out because Plant A Row helps out Port Washington in general,” Ben Gordon, 17, said.

Plant A Row is a local organization that plants, grows, harvests and delivers produce to local families and community members in need. The organization was founded to address local issues of hunger through gardening. Since its founding it has donated over 57,000 pounds of locally grown and fresh produce.

The organization donates its food to Our Lady of Fatima in Port Washington, which then distributes the food to community members who are food insecure.

Plant A Row’s gallery will be on display at the Port Washington Public Library starting on Jan. 8, returning after last year’s gallery with a new theme: “Growing together.” It will be at the library through Feb. 29.

The gallery, which includes dozens of new photos and written testimonials, will now feature QR codes for attendees to scan with their phones to watch video testimonials from locals and supporters of Plant A Row.

The interviews include local officials who have helped Plant A Row and advanced its cause, such as Town Councilmember Mariann Dalimonte and Nassau County District 11 Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D–Glen Cove).

Jonathan Gold, 17, Ben Gordon, 17, and Elizabeth Milgrim, 14, are high school students and members of Plant A Row who produced the videos for the organization’s new gallery.

Gold co-founded with his brother Can You Help Too, a local nonprofit collecting canned goods donated to Our Lady of Fatima.

He began working alongside Plant A Row in November 2022, earlier describing the volunteers’ relationship in a single word: family.

Gold first started helping the organization by passing out fliers for its 2023 gallery highlighting the work and accomplishments of Plant A Row.

The teen said that he found the additional work with Plant A Row rewarding and sought ways to expand his contributions to the local organization in conjunction with his nonprofit.

“I realized how fun it was to help out other people more than I was already doing,” Gold said.

Gordon has been involved with Plant A Row for about two years and has grown his love for gardening, something he said he never believed he would say.

He said his volunteerism with the organization has been rewarding for him.

“It feels good to be able to give back,” Gordon said. “It just feels really good to be able to know that you’re helping someone have fresh food and that you’re giving someone a chance. And it feels even better that it’s my peers that are getting the help and the people of Port Washington.”

Milgrim started collecting excess garden produce from her home and her neighbors to be donated to Our Lady of Fatimah to prevent food waste. When donating her home-grown foods, she learned of Plant A Row and its similar mission.

Starting in August, Milgrim began her involvement in Plant A Row by starting with producing the upcoming gallery videos.

“I felt really proud to be part of a community that supports such a great organization like Plant A Row and does so much good for the community,” Milgrim said.

Helping produce elements of the gallery was a learning experience for Gold, who said he is looking forward to the new interactive elements of the gallery.

“Through the whole process, I learned skills I would not have learned if Plant A Row never asked me to help and Marv (founder Marvin Makofsky) never asked me to help with this,” Gold said.

Gold said this gallery is important in spreading the message of Plant A Row and garnering the community support to continue advancing their efforts in supporting food insecure community members.

“I realized that Plant A Row doesn’t just grow veggies…it also just gives a chance for more people to be involved in our community,” Gold said.

Milgrim said Plant A Row is important to the community as it feeds people who don’t have the resources to buy fresh produce and unites a community through its volunteer work. She said the gallery could help recruit more individuals to continue the mission.

“I think it’s important because it really highlights what Plant A Row has done over the years and it might bring a new crowd of people to Plant A Row and encourage more people to volunteer,” Milgrim said.

Gordon said the hope is that people will come to see the gallery and join in on the effort as well, becoming inspired by the gallery’s display of what the individuals of PLant A Row have been able to achieve through the organization’s collaborative efforts.

Plant A Row is not just founder Makofsky, it’s not just Board member Bea Loerinc Helft, it’s not just Gold, it’s the whole community, Gordon said.

“Plant A Row wouldn’t be able to be a thing without the hundreds of people that donate every year, without the hundreds of volunteers over the summer collecting food, without Sister Kathy donating the food and keeping the food at the food bank. It just reminds everyone of Port Washington that this is what we’ve done as a whole.”

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