Recently, I volunteered at America’s Grow a Row, an organization in Pittstown, NJ.
America’s Grow-a-Row’s mission is to positively impact as many lives as possible through a volunteer effort of planting, picking, rescuing, and delivering free fresh produce.
Late last year, I started looking for ways to do some volunteering. A friend of mine, through a company function, had recently done some at America’s Grow a Row, picking corn. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but one day, I ended up in a big patch of tomatoes with a girl scout troop and a religious group. In the 2.5 hours we were working, I believe we boxed up about 3,500 pounds of tomatoes that were going to be taken to a food bank the following day.
We picked what felt like 100 boxes of tomatoes. In truth, it was probably about 40.
Early on, I realized that constantly bending over to pick the tomatoes off their vines was going to put me in the hospital. Also realizing that some of the younger people would have problems carrying the heavy baskets to the truck, I decided to take that job on myself. Minimizing back strain? Check! There’s something to be said about self-preservation.
In the surrounding fields, I noticed there were other fruits and vegetables to be gleaned and harvested at some point, if not already. Corn, cabbage, lettuce and more.
Aside from the rewarding feeling of volunteering and providing something for those in need, as someone that does a lot of sitting behind a computer, I have to admit that it was a great feeling to just get out and do some back-breaking, sweat-filled work in the muddy fields, using your hands in a very raw and natural way.
The President and Founder, Chip Paillex, was named as a CNN Hero for all that his organization has done. Well done, Chip!
If you live nearby Pittstown, NJ and get a chance, I can’t recommend highly enough a fun few hours volunteering at America’s Grow a Row. And if you go, let me know. I would love to do it again!