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October 3, 2013

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.

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None, other then help them to grow by donating routinely

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