I am co-chair of the grants committee of a woman's philanthropic organization called Impact New Jersey 100. We awarded American Grow A Row and the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown a $100,000 grant to collaborate in feeding those in need. We could not be more proud of our selection. They do a superb job of gathering the community to plant and harvest the vegetables and to creatively distribute to those in the the community. Thank you for this opportunity to applaud their efforts
We've had the true pleasure of supporting America's Grow-a-Row since nearly inception. The passion, commitment and dedication of the staff to help address the plight of hunger in New Jersey has not gone unnoticed. Each year they strengthen their programs and grow their capacity to do more. A financial investment is an investment in the long-term success of America's Grow-a-Row. This coupled with an investment of time and talent will help aid in fighting the battle against poverty and hunger.
AGAR is the gold standard when it comes to non-profits. Chip and his team have such amazing energy around their mission of providing freah, healthy food to those in need. They are diligent in ensuring every dollar donated is used effectively toward that goal. Thier large volunteer base is dedicated and provides the resources needed to harvest the produce and keep operating costs down. The Board is extremely active both on/off the farm. it is a wonderful organization and I am proud to be a member of.
As a community member, donor, and volunteer, I can highly recommend without any reservation America's Grow-A-Row. It is a fantastic charity with Chip as a phenomenal leader. I am confident that donations/gratns will be used to positively impact the lives of many whether they are produce recipients or the next generation of volunteers.
I got involved with America's Grow-A-Row (AGAR) several years ago after reading an article in our local paper. As a board member of a small foundation, I was always looking for local 'grass-roots' charities that we would want to consider for a donation. We would often search for smaller charities with low overhead costs where dollar for dollar we could have the most impact – help the most people. AGAR was perfect.
At the time AGAR was in its early stages of development and just finalizing its 501c3 status. Since then, I cannot begin to tell you how inspiring it has been to watch Chip Paillex and his team at AGAR develop the program into a huge success donating over 1,700,000 lbs of fresh, healthy food to people in need. Chip's passion and enthusiasm are endless. He has cultivated a large volunteer base and ensures every dollar equates to more lbs of fresh food.
In 2008, my son's 2nd grade class went on a field trip to the AGAR farm to plant string beans. The children learned about hunger, fresh food, and, most importantly, the importance of giving back. AGAR's model is inherently sustainable spawning the next generation of philanthropists and volunteers.
The field trip led to an idea to start a garden at the school. With Chip's help and guidance, the team of school volunteers (teachers, parents, and students) started a garden. The first crop was harvested in the summer of 2011 and continues today. During the school year the garden is used for hands-on learning as well as a source of fresh foods for lunch!
AGAR is reaching further with the Newark Area Hunger Relief and Healthy Eating Program. This program features the two key elements that make AGAR the special not for profit they are: 1) the delivery of approximately 35,000 pounds of fresh, healthy produce to Newark and Jersey City through Free Farm Markets, and 2) the hosting of 250-300 youth from these communities at AGAR’s farm in Pittstown, NJ. The delivery of food to one of the nation’s worst “food desserts” attacks a major issue, availability. While it may be hard for us to believe, the greater Newark area lacks access to fresh, affordable produce. This program assures healthy produce gets into the hands and onto the plates of those suffering from hunger. However, AGAR doesn’t stop there. Hunger is only one aspect of a complex issue. The second part of the program addresses education. The program provides hands-on opportunities for youth from the Newark area to visit their farm in Pittstown, NJ where they harvest crops and learn about the importance of healthy eating. The experience for these kids is life altering. It provides them with an education on healthy eating, with skills they can use to grow their own food, and illustrates the power of giving back. My husband and I always look forward to volunteering for a youth day.
Our small family foundation looks to fund projects that have potential to grow and continue and that improve the lives of many. When Grow-A-Row applied for a grant, we were immediately drawn to their mission to grow and deliver fresh produce to soup kitchens and food banks; but when we learned that they brought people out from the cities to the farms, that made a good program even better in our eyes. We are impressed with the vision of their founder and of the energy and commitment of their many volunteers. I would love to see the idea go national.
America's Grow- a- Row was founded on the passion of one individual's desire to help feed families in need. Chip Paillex's strong vision and mission to supply healthy, fresh produce to deserving families throughout New Jersey started in his own back yard. Growing vegetables and bringing them to his church to be distributed to poor parishioners blossomed into AGAR purchasing a 130 acre farm that grows and harvests tons of fresh produce which reach needy communities throughout the state. As both a donor and volunteer, I saw first hand how dedicated the entire organization is to helping those in need. From attending multiple fundraisers to picking corn with 20 other volunteers one hot summer night, I felt I was part of something that truly was making a difference in people's lives.
My family's foundation was involved in funding AGAR early on with seed money to promote the idea. That little investment has generated a tremendous return to AGAR's clients - the patrons of food banks in northern NJ. Their model depends extensively on volunteers. In my view, the best any funder can do is generate a high degree of volunteer leverage in accomplishing a truly worthwhile body of work. AGAR has succeeded on all counts. I only hope the model can be scaled up to meet the real human needs in other communities. But for here and now, AGAR is doing remarkably well in a difficult economic environment.
America's Grow-A-Row (AGAR) is a very special group of dedicated staff, volunteers and a Board who have created a unique model which serves the need in our community for quality food for the population who depend on food banks for their food needs.Through a growing number of volunteers, AGAR plants, harvests and distributes healty fruits and vegetables to many local food banks in the community. Two yaers ago, they purchased a farm which has more than quadrupled the quantity of pounds of produce donated. It can truly say that every dollar donated produces more than seven dollar of value to the food banks and their clients. I can't begin to describe all that AGAR does because it's very comprehensive and can best be obtained by your learning more about their mission and results.