Where does one begin when attempting to do justice for an organization as stellar as America's Grow a Row? Our family has been dedicated to working with AGAR practically from the beginning. We have watched Chip and his team create an organization that does so much good for so many. AGAR isn't only feeding people physically, but emotionally, spiritually, academically, and relationally as well. Every time we step foot on the farm or at an event or at an offsite farm market, we feel the spirit of what AGAR is about: the unconditional desire to help others. It has been and continues to be an honor to volunteer for and support AGAR.
Chip Pailex and his team are truly exceptional and caring human beings! I have volunteered with Grow a Row since 2010 and have been so impressed with their mission to bring healthy fruits and vegetables to inner cities in New Jersey. I find Grow a Row to be a very organized and efficient organization, and yet run by incredibly humble staff. It has been amazing to watch the organization just blossom and evolve over the years, as well as its expanding ability to serve and educate those in need. As a mom, I love that our entire family can volunteer at the farm together, whether it's planting seeds or gleaning produce. We always leave the farm feeling very grateful and a part of something worthwhile!
America's Grow a Row is a dedicated organization that grows more than vegetables for those in need, I have seen it grow people. This organization gives to those in need and gives back to those that give. It is an organization where families serve together, where I am fortunate to be able to have my children experience the benefits of giving along with the education for themselves on the benefits of being closely connected to our food source and educating them on healthy choices. So much is gained from having these children with diverse backgrounds share in the experience of picking food for others together. In an era where obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are rampant, AGAR is a beacon for us all to be challenged to eat better and show the next generation how. AGAR is dedicated to the communities it serves in delivering vegetables to food deserts for improving the lives of those in need, to the education it provides to everyone who touches the organization. Thanks to the leadership and vision of Founder and President, Chip Paillex, AGAR will be providing healthy, fresh produce to our neighbors in need for a very long time!
Extremely well run, true to mission, wonderful presence within the community. Been involved for approximately 10 years. Great to see their growth and success.
My family and I have been volunteers for America's Grow-A-Row since 2005. There are so many wonderful things about this organization—it is one of the few where families can volunteer together. I think back to the first night we picked corn in the sweltering heat, with dirt all over us, so amazed that our group had picked over 7000 pounds of corn in two hours and it would make it to those in need the very next day! It was a wonderful, yet humbling experience. I know my daughters looked at the world a little differently after that experience…We have been blessed to see AGAR grow over the years and touch so many lives…My wife wanted to get more involved so she has been the Gleaning Coordinator for a local grocery store since 2008. It was such a simple yet powerful idea—think of all the "not quite for retail" produce that gets thrown out each day in grocery stores. We have volunteers who pick up fresh produce on a daily basis that might not look good in a fruit bowl, but would make an excellent apple pie or tomato sauce. When she first started, the employees of the store told her how happy they were that the fruits and vegetables were not going to waste. To be able to provide fresh produce to those who cannot afford it or don't have easy access to it, is a wonderful feeling.
I have picked up literally carloads of fresh produce to deliver to urban farm markets and/or to the Community Soup Kitchen in Morristown. The kindness and concern of the people supplying the food to be loaded into my car is matched only by the incredible volume of what is being given and the freshness of the produce. To arrive at an urban farm market and deliver huge burlap bags of corn so fresh it smells like "GREEN! SUMMER!", crates of squash, plums, tomatoes ...it fills you with a feeling of all that is right in the world. No preservatives. No cans. No chemical ingredients. Just farm fresh food, brought to you by the people of Americas Grow A Row. With love and respect and good wishes. God! I love these people!
I have had the outstandingprivilege of working with almost every person from this organization. These are dedicated and genuine people. They have inspired me and the teams that I have brought from The Cheesecake Factory. Each of us has left the farm spreading the good word and the positivity around America's Grow A Row. Nothing beats giving back and this group of ladies and gentlemen facilitate an amazing chance for each individual and each group to reap the amazing benefit of charity work. We will always return to support this great cause.
I have volunteered with AGAR a few times, harvesting crops at their farms. Helping them to get fresh produce to those whose needs weren't being met in an important part of healthy nutrition. I’m passionate about good nutrition for better health and it’s wonderful to see an organization address this unmet need successfully. AGAR is a well-run non-profit; the staff is energetic, informative and fun to partner with. Each experience is more rewarding and I walk away feeling I've made a very real impact helping others.
I have served on the boards of several non profit organizations over my years in business. I can honestly say that Americas Grow A Row is the best run non profit I and my husband have ever encountered. The organization is run with discipline and efficiency as well as with heart. The workings of this organization are totally transparent and decisions are made with integrity. Fund raising and grant seeking are accomplished "the Grow A Row way" which is always fact based and respectful of the many supporters and volunteers. This organization not only grows, harvests, gleans and gives away fresh produce to those in need, but also educates children and families about the benefits of eating healthy food. And much of this work is done with thousands of volunteers. This is a great nonprofit!
I have volunteered with America's Grow a Row on multiple occasions -- planting and harvesting at their farms, helping to distribute produce at their free farm markets, and participating in numerous social fundraising events. Each and every experience with AGAR has been overwhelmingly positive and rewarding. AGAR's mission and focus is consistently clear and every time I have volunteered with them, I have always felt I was helping them serve their purpose.
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
TeamWalker Loves Chip and the good people at Grow-a-Row. Every Saturday morning volunteers drive from the Country in Western New Jersey to the Inner City in Jersey City, New Jersey to kindly help us hand out FREE Fresh Produce to the Community. We serve over two hundred people every Saturday. I have pics wish could post.
Thank You to Everyone at Grow-a-Row!!!!!!!!!
I believe that freshly picked fruits and vegetables are foods that everyone should have access to, no matter where you live or how much money you have. The fact that America's Grow-a-Row delivers them to food pantries and free farmers markets and offers them at no cost is amazing! So many people are benefitting from this organization. I just feel like I'm overflowing with joy whenever I help pick and distribute the produce.
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.
America's Grow-a-Row never stops giving back! I've seen volunteers, recipients, and staff members all gain so much from the work that is being done and the experiences that are being shared. There is truly a sense of community here that I have yet to witness anywhere else. The Grow-a-Row family like no other and they have planted the roots of their mission deep throughout NJ!
This year our market was off the chain. We had cooking classes with the fresh veggies from the farm. There also was a zumba class teaching healthy living. We served 145 families this year with the veggies from America's grow a row. Thanks Leena and Chip great job keep on what you are doing for the community.
Our group was invited this summer of 2014 and what an AWESOME time. Thank you "Grow a Row" and may God continue to bless you for blessing us so much!!!!!!!!!
Our children received an opportunity that they never would have been accessible to. HIP!HIP! HOORAY! goes to Mr. Chip and Ms. Leena!!!!
Ms. Maria and the children of Gilmore Christian Academy in Paterson, NJ
As a local community member, I have seen the tremendous growth of America's Grow a Row. I became involved locally with my family, and now I have partnered with them to bring over 50 student-athletes from Seton Hall University to support their cause. Each year we bring our students to the fields to pick vegetables that will end up on the tables of the people in the communities next to our campus. Additionally, a former Seton Hall Legend from the basketball court, Jerry Walker has partnered with Chip to bring kids from the inner city to experience the farm and learn about healthy eating.
My family and I have volunteered with America's Grow A Row in the fields and providing professional advice for providing access to and water for one of their farming sites.
The time spent in the fields is rewarding and great fun! The AGAR staff is extremely efficient in organizing the volunteer efforts, especially the time spent in the field picking produce. Through use of their website and emails, small and large/corporate groups are organized for a few hours of picking produce at various times during the week and weekends. All ages participate and the younger kids have a blast!
It is amazing to watch thousands of pounds of produce go from vine, stalk or tree, into bags by the volunteers, then large boxes which are immediately loaded into trucks for delivery to various food banks and those in need................all in a matter of a few hours!
There are many great opportunities to volunteer including planting, harvesting, transporting, education and fundraising. Involve your families, schools, churches, sports teams, college students/organizations, and corporations/employers. Give back and have fun!
I have volunteered with America's Grow-a-Row twice through my corporation. It is truly one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Not only do I learn about the rigor it takes to farm the fields (and I always feel that rigor the next morning!), but I see the fruits of our labor get picked up directly from the local food bank. As a team bonding activity for an organization that is aiming to make sustainable living commonplace, this organization always has the team motivated to make a brighter future.
Grow-a-row is a truly fantastic organization. I have been volunteering with them for about 4 years now. It started through my company's United Way program, but has since expanded to include my family, church, and cub scout group.
Grow-a-row makes a lot out of very little. They have a very noble goal - give fresh produce to people who otherwise wouldn't have anything to eat. Most of us are very blessed to be able to eat whatever we want; try fasting for a day, and you will appreciate what Grow-a-Row does!
As a volunteer, they use your time very efficiently - you can plant beans, harvest corn, gather fruit, and so on. I have picked cabbage (very hard), tomatoes and green beans (pretty easy), and corn (kind of in between). I planted green bean seeds on what was probably the hottest day of the year, and I've picked corn in weather than can best be described as a monsoon. (I've also had plenty of good weather experiences!). I have never regretted a minute of the time spent with Grow-a-row.
Much of what they do is "glean" - go through fields or orchards after the owner has harvested the prime vegetables or fruits, but there is still plenty of good produce available. The "gleaners" go through and gather all of that produce, all of which is perfectly acceptable food and otherwise would have gone to waste. That is an outstanding use of resources, both natural and volunteer.
Grow-a-row also makes excellent use of the financial contributions they get. They aren't driving fancy trucks and buying new machines. They stretch every dollar as far as they can, buying second-hand tractors and so on.
Their educational components is also excellent. Each time we take our cub scouts, the boys learn about vegetable, produce, nutrition, and more. Their program with inner city youth is absolutely fantastic.
Finally, I served on the board of directors of the United Way of Hunterdon County. Through that experience, I got to know quite a few non-profit organizations. While UWHC sponsors many great agencies, I believe America's Grow-a-Row is one of the best, if not the best. They have excellent leadership, they are financially very smart, and make fantastic use of volunteer time.
I can't say enough good things about America's Grow-a-row. I only wish I had more time to devote to them.
The AGAR staff truly appreciate the volunteers and show it in all their work. I love being able to volunteer with my family, and my children are learning a valuable lesson about giving back to the communities of NJ. I am so glad they are addressing such a important need for so many people. Somehow they make hard work fun.
Both my family and Highlands Presbyterian Church where I serve as pastor have had wonderful service-learning experiences with AGAR through the years. Our groups have picked peaches, green beans, apples, and corn at different times and places. Not only do we learn a task that brings us closer to the earth, but we also take away the knowledge that giving of our time and energy can be good for others as well.
One year our daughter chose to have her birthday party at a nearby farm where the kids all picked apples for AGAR to be given to a food bank. It was a lot of fun and helped raise awareness with the parents and kids about this great organization and how it helps millions of people.
A group from the church went to Camden NJ one Friday to experience the Free Farm Market delivering fresh produce to people with limited access to it. For my congregants this program of AGAR gave them a chance to step out of their comfort zone and interact directly with folks who live in a place which gets very bad press. This opportunity transformed the issue of poverty and hunger into something personal and real.
I appreciate the good communicators at AGAR - Leena, Chip, Jules, Heather, Sally, etc. - are all folks who are personable, knowledgeable, and dependable leaders in this organization and it has been a joy to work with them.
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.
Awesome place. I love the staff....they are just so friendly. The work was fun, too. More importanty, my time at AGAR was meaningful. Blessings to Chip and family!
Review from Guidestar
America's Grow-a-Row's endeavors helps to energize our congregation's desire to assist in "growing" our own Mission Garden. AGAR helped us educate our own volunteers and the result has been a 5-year old Mission Garden project that this year alone, produced a 250% increase over last year of fresh produce both grown and donated to our local food banks. Creating awareness is only the first step. AGAR has done an amazing job empowering and motivating individuals and other charitable organizations to make a difference in our less fortunate neighbor's lives.
The overall experience with America's Grow a Row has been tremendous. Having served as a volunteer for several years, and leading a group of volunteers for the same amount of time has been one of the easiest events to plan.
AGAR Staff effectively communicate their needs and expectations. Provide the proper instructions on site and are highly motivated to achieve a goal. The work experience is just the right amount of time to make you feel as though you have contributed a great deal but not so much that you are overworked.
The Staff also explain the impact that your volunteer work will make and explain the experience of providing food to the end user.
Keep up the great work AGAR !!!!!
AGAR is a terrific organization that is having a real impact on the hunger crisis in New Jersey, helping to feed those in need with fresh, healthy fresh and vegetables. With a limited staff of 3 full-time and 3 part-time employees and an extensive network of approximately 3,000 volunteers, AGAR grows, gleans, and donates desperately needed fresh produce to food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens all over New Jersey, including “food desert” areas that lack access to affordable fresh produce. AGAR also provides education programs in schools and “on-the-field” that address healthy eating, the hunger crisis, volunteerism, and the role of agriculture in our food system.
AGAR successfully combines a business model to the framework of a mission-driven non-profit, working closely with partner agencies to fill orders and tailor the mix of produce provided based on what is most needed and most requested. They have created an inventory management system and are able to distribute produce in a timely manner that does not require refrigeration or long-term storage.
The enthusiasm and energy in the AGAR organization is contagious and they are making a very real, positive difference in the lives of our neighbors in need in NJ.
AGAR is a great nonprofit that provides a great service to those in need in the state of New Jersey. Their unique approach to tackling this problem is effective. They are having a real impact and their fast-pace growth is a testament to their results. They do this while also being a great steward of their limited resources and an incredible volunteer force.
Please consider AGAR when you are contemplating making a charitable gift to a deserving nonprofit. AGAR is a worthy cause!
I have a passion for gardening and being of service to others, AGAR has been able to meet both of these needs over the past 5 years. My family and I have been involved in a number of volunteer oppprtunities that have come up over the years. My personal favorite is picking corn in the summer and seeing bin after bin full of healthy food ready for pick-up by the food banks. My wife and I are part of the team that gleans from the local Shop-Rite and distributes veggies and fruit to those in need from the Flemington area. We have also helped out with the Free Farm Market set up in the Camden area for people that have limited access to healty produce. II continue to see first hand the impact AGAR has on the lives of those who volunteer as well as those who benefit from servings of fruits and vegetable and because of this I will gladly continue to volunteer for years to come.
Currently, the East Orange YMCA, America's Grow-a-Row and Rutgers University College of Nursing is partnering together in a pilot program that includes an America's Grow-A-Row Free Farm Market, youth days at the actual farm and a health impact study. Y families pick fresh fruits and vegetables at the Y, participate in brief nutrition classes, take questionaires and our summer camp kids experienced a day at the farm harvesting fresh produce.
The East Orange YMCA is very excited to share this healthy living program with our community and know that it will change healthy living habits. A few of our families and staff have said:
"I made a smoothie (1 gallon) for the Y staff the next day using the peaches and then added green apples, spinach, kale, cinnamon and ginger with some coconut juice (this brand has bits of coconut in it). We discussed chipping in on a regular basis to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market that I can juice for everyone and we're already sharing recipes. Yummy!"
"The produce was fresh and delicious. I just cooked the last of the string beans and my grandchildren really enjoyed the peaches."
"Since the Farmer's Market came to the YMCA, I really look forward to the fresh fruits and vegetables. I have always eaten a lot of sweets and many things that are not good for me on a daily basis. Now, I am learning how to eat in smaller portions and how to choose healthier food selections. The first time I tried the corn I literally ate it with every meal. The corn has a different taste than what I get from the supermarket. My granddaughter loves the apples and asks me everyday to bring her some apples. If I come home without an apple, she tells me I am not her friend. I appreciate the collaboration between Grow-A-Row and the East Orange YMCA. This community, including myself, can learn how to adapt healthier eating habits in our daily lives."
AGAR is an excellent example of an important nonprofit organization which is changing lives. Normally it's the lives of the receivers of a service provided that are changed, however in this instance, it's all of the lives that are touched in the process of planting and harvesting and education, that are changed as well. The growth of AGAR is the testimony to its value. It's ability to produce fresh produce has grown; the camps, conference centers, churches that support it have grown; the corporate and political support has grown; the number of volunteers has grown; the number of people touched by its outreach has grown. Working with many Christian nonprofits across the US, I have been especially impressed with the evolution of AGAR. Special blessings to an incredible team!
AGAR is a terrific group that is making a difference in the lives of so many New Jersey residents. They provide opportunities for thousands of volunteers to contribute their time and talents, they educate students about healthy eating, and they distribute the produce so those who are hungry can receive nutritional food. AGAR is filled with dedicated people who are doing everything possible to stamp out hunger in NJ. When Chip started AGAR, he started a powerful movement that has changed the lives of millions.
Americas Grow-A-Row is one of the greatest ideas and organizations in the volunteer world. Nowhere else could you give a few hours of your time and instantly see the enormous benefits you have just provided to far too many in need. With poor nutrition and diet being two of the biggest and costliest issues throughout NJ and our nation, it is just tremendous that this program continues chip away at ending these problems.
Our founder and President Chip Paillex is one of the finest people and natural leaders that I have ever known and his personality, spirit and energy continue to motivate everyone involved with AGAR. We are grateful to all that continue to both touch and support this outstanding program and we look to all of you to continue to help us win this battle. Although we find ourselves in the first inning of a long game vs. hunger, Americas Grow-a-Row has the team through its ever growing networks of support to win and win we will!
Thanks to all for your dedication to AGAR.
Volunteer & Trustee
Americas Grow-A-Row is one of the most outstanding programs and ideas a nation could ever hope to experience and enjoy taking part in. The message, support of volunteers and bottom line results of AGAR are so powerful that few other ideas will match it's benefits to our fellow citizens.With a volunteer base in the thousands and growing this NJ based non-profit is having a profound impact on the health and educational needs of so many throughout our state that are in need of great nutritious fruit & vegetables in their daily diet. All of us volunteers show our willingness to our fellow citizens by working in the fields throughout each year growing, gleaning and giving fresh produce which we have planted and cared for to shelters, soup kitchens and foodbanks throughout NJ. At the same time we are educating both ourselves as volunteers and many inner city youth about the importance of farming and eating healthy. In a world and a nation that are consumed each and every day with huge problems to deal with, Americas Grow-A-Row is getting out in front of a few of our biggest issues and improving the lives of so many while doing so. This organization is so brilliant for its simplicity of message yet so dedicated to the core belief of our needs and obligations to help our fellow citizens in need. Truly the very best in breed and we continue to urge for the support we need to continue the growth of a fantastic idea and vision. Hats of to AGAR!
My family and I have been involved with America's Grow-A-Row for the past 8 years. Chip Paillex founded this organization as a mission project through our church and it is amazing to see how it has grown over the years. AGAR is unique in so many ways--it is one of the few local charities where my entire family can volunteer together, my girls were 9 and 7 when they picked their first ear of corn! Meeting and talking to neighbors and new friends between the corn rows, finding out that as a group we picked thousands of pounds of corn that would be feeding families the next day--is just a wonderful feeling. I coordinate one of the gleaning programs where volunteers pick up "not quite retail perfect" produce from local grocery stores and deliver to our local food banks. We average about 5000 - 6000 pounds a month! The employees at the stores beam when we come to pick up the produce as it used to be thrown out. My daughter completed her Girl Scout Gold Award with an education project for AGAR. We love America's Grow-A-Row and are so proud to be part of such a fantastic program!
I was pulled into helping with America's Grow-A-Row through friends that had done volunteer work with the organization. One afternoon in the field was all it took for me to be inspired by what this wonderful group of people does. Being part of this process has made me realize just what a necessary service AGAR is. In my naivete, I was shocked to learn about those that go without fresh fruits and vegetables. As I have volunteered not only in the fields but in classroom education, I continue to be energized by the outreach in the community to educate and provide. Although there is always more that I can do, the most important, I believe, is to spread the word about the opportunities here. What is also great about AGAR is the ability to welcome all ages in lending a helping hand. The fresh air, physical work and doing what is so basic to life, growing and feeding others, sets AGAR apart. It's easy to see where the time and effort goes and makes me proud to think I am helping in such an organic way.
I am so proud to know Chip Paillex and all of his incredible team! Last fall I brought my 1st and 2nd grade sons to help apple pick right after the hurricane. About 20 people were there, and we rescued 3000 lbs of apples! It was hard work. While we worked, I was able to have some powerful conversations with my boys. They have not gone without fresh food, but I have. When I was growing up in Jersey City with my mom, we rarely could afford fresh fruits or vegetables. They were surprised, and saddened. It didn't make sense to them. "But everyone should have them mom, that's not fair" said my 2nd grader. I replied "I know, that's why we're here" He quickly asked "when can we come back?!" AGAR changes lives. Fresh food is not only critical for nutrition, but for everyone to know what is possible. Yes, you can! Thank you AGAR
My family has been involved with AGAR since the founding by Chip many years ago. It has been an amazing story to watch as it grew from Chip starting a small vegetable patch with a few volunteers to where it is today, harvesting many thousand of pounds of vegetables every year to help feed those in need. One of the things that I appreciate most about the program is the many volunteers who become engaged in doing good for others. The lessons learned by the hundreds of kids volunteering and learning about serving others is not known at this time but I am confident it will surely reap a great harvest in the future... Chip and his staff are incredibly dedicated and passionate about AGAR and I am totally committed to continuing to support the organization.
I was first introduced to Chip and America's Grow-a-Row in 2010 when my branding and marketing agency worked with the organization for a charitable promotion. He and his team were exceptionally passionate and a pleasure to work with. It took a little while - but we finally decided to volunteer as an office by picking green beans at Peaceful Valley Orchards in Pittstown, NJ. Around 75 volunteers came out and it was a record day -- over 900 lbs of fresh, locally grown beans delivered straight to people that need it around New Jersey. The experience was very relaxing and rewarding, plus we enjoyed meeting and talking with fellow volunteers. A few hours later, I suggested my girlfriend (and about 9 other friends) look into volunteering as well. Sure enough, she and I were back in the field the next night to pick corn... this time, about 25 volunteers picked an entire field -- 4000 lbs. Chip's desire to help others is so apparent in his actions that it helped motivate the group to continue picking until the last possible bit of light had been lost. It was awesome. In spending time talking to Chip and his team I've also realized how savvy and ambitious they are. The organization is perfectly suited to grow and can be scaled very efficiently. I plan to continue supporting them and hope that others, from everyday volunteers to large donors do the same. Their impact is immeasurable.
Review from Guidestar
America's Grow-A-Row is a fabulous organization of very dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly to provide fresh food for the needy. In doing so they have created a model that also allows many, many people who would like to do something a simple, rewarding, and enjoyable way to turn hard work into something positive. Once you start working in the fields amongst the other volunteers the spirit becomes contagious and you want to do it again and again. The rewards for your labor are right there in the box of beans or pail of tomatoes. You pick upthe box and immediately feel the weight of what you accomplished. Chip is tireless in his efforts, yet he is always ready to give all the credit to the volunteers helping out that day. He not only makes everything run smoothly, but he makes everyone feel special. That is the key to the magic of America's Grow-A-Row.
I've had the good fortune of being involved with America's Grow-a-Row through my company for over a year now and I can honestly say they are a fantastic organization. Over this time I've had the chance to get to know Leena and Chip through our volunteer efforts and you would be hard pressed to find two that are more dedicated and passionate about their work. They have welcomed us with open arms and have allowed us to help them in their mission to provide low income families and communities with access to fresh fruit and vegetables. It makes me feel good to know that I'm helping people in need and none of this would have been possible without the dedicated staff of America's Grow-a-Row.
As a leader of the Confirmation class at church I can hardly describe the value of the lesson learned by our students through AGAR. Our youth (and adults) are bombarded daily by the message, "It's all about you and getting what you want so that you can be happy." The best antidote to the "Disease of Me" that we have found is taking privileged youth out to the fields to harvest healthy fresh produce for someone who desperately needs it, but can never repay them. Some of the students delivered the produce to the soup kitchen and saw the reaction when the less fortunate realized that someone they did not even know took the time to give them food that was fresh, not boxed or canned. Every volunteer left that field with a much clearer perspective on what is important and how much we take for granted. The benefit of being an AGAR volunteer is leaving with a full heart, and planting "seeds" that may grow in years to come. This is why we have made AGAR participation a regular part of our Confirmation, Youth and Adult activities. I strongly recommend AGAR volunteering to one and all!
As president of the Joseph Lapinksi Foundation (JLF)-a non-profit charity assistance program I was so excited to introduce AGAR to my board members after a day volunteering in the fields. The JLF has three program priorities we look for when selecting organizations to assist-Health, Familial Issues and the Environment. AGAR was that rare organization that met all three of these different areas of concern and that is a testament to their hard work, effort and wonderful concept. AGAR is a genuine organziation that is looking to make a difference in their community by utilizing the skills of their founders members and supporters. Fund raising is a valuable tool to help others but it is when we volunteer our time and expertise that we reach our greatest impact. AGAR does just that and all involved should be proud of their efforts.
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.
America's Grow a Row is an amazing organization that helps local people in need enjoy fresh, healthy food. What is even more special about this program is how they engage the community. It is wonderful to volunteer for them, and hear the sound of children and adults laughing and chatting, while working in the corn fields. Its hard work, picking the corn and filling the burlap sacks, and I was so proud of my own children as I watched them work. After a couple of hours, we were hot, sweaty, and exhausted, but truly felt like we had done something tangible to help people who were less fortunate than ourselves.
America's Grow-a-Row provides a wonderful way for me to give back to others with my family. My children are never excluded because they are too young, as they are with so many other non-profits. They have been picking corn and other produce since they were at least 5 years old and have learned many lessons about: hard work, agriculture, hunger, and poverty. This is an organization that values and appreciates its volunteers and I am proud to serve it in many ways. I am also pleased to not only be helping to feed those in need, but to be feeding them with healthy food. In an era where obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are rampant, we need to be giving people opportunities to eat better. Thanks to the leadership and vision of Founder and President, Chip Paillex, AGAR will be providing healthy, fresh produce to our neighbors in need for a very long time!