CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jim Shaver is a man on a mission to help feed the hungry with fresh produce from gardens all across the state. And he's asking all West Virginia gardeners to help.
Shaver, of Buckhannon, has created a website, OneMoreRow.org, asking gardeners to dedicate a single row of their gardening efforts this summer to help improve the quality of life for West Virginia's homeless, disabled, financially struggling and senior citizens.
"That simple idea became a personal tradition, and my grandfather's legacy has never left my heart," Shaver said. His grandfather was William Paul Shaver, an officer with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
"Just one more row can make a big difference," Shaver explains. "When I was a young man, I used to help my grandfather work his garden every year. One spring in the 1980s, after I finished plowing his soil, Grampa gave me a phone call and asked if I would come back for just a few more minutes and help him expand his garden's size by just one more row.
"In that extra row, he planted tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and zucchini. From late that summer until the first freeze of fall, we took the harvest from that row, plus more, and distributed it freely to senior citizens and disabled persons living in our local town. The recipients were so grateful and appreciative that, in the end, I felt like we received the biggest blessing in the deal."
According to Shaver, the recession, with the skyrocketing costs of food and fuel, has made it increasingly difficult for many in the country to meet their needs.
"You can help by participating in the One More Row food drive. But the time to do so is now," Shaver said. "We are seeking farmers and hobby gardeners from all across the United States to make one simple pledge: Help alleviate hunger.
"When you plant your garden this spring, please commit to planting just one more row of vegetables, fruit or herbs. Then, donate that share of the harvest to others who are in need."
The organization suggests taking your harvest to senior citizens, to disabled people who are physically unable to garden, to impoverished urban neighbors who do not have the space or tools to grow a garden for themselves, or to a food bank, soup kitchen or other organizations assisting citizens with financial need.
Shaver is asking visitors to the website to sign a pledge and to encourage others to join the cause.
Shaver is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College. He is the co-creator of several West Virginia-oriented websites including: WV1.com, WVGoldPages.com and the YouTube channel WV1com. He maintains a popular Facebook fan page, Mountain Sage, and he's an avid gardening enthusiast, outdoor photographer, hiker and fisherman.
The CEO of One More Row is Tim Simons, a business partner of Shaver, and the national promotions director is Hugh Blair, a subrogation analyst with The Rawlings Co. and founder of a community garden in LaGrange, Ky. The web consultant for One More Row is Don Stemple, the owner of Upshur Technology.
The Cincinnati Flower Show is on hold this year while the organizers "rebrand," according to its website. So they are hosting a Spring Gardening Fair April 15-17 as a fundraiser and to appease all of us who will miss their annual extravaganza.
It will be held in the Delhi Flower & Garden Center in Liberty Township. There will be daily do-it-yourself workshops, activities for children, local gourmet food vendors, and a marketplace featuring a wide variety of garden inspired ornaments, jewelry and clothing. Shop Delhi's greenhouse for Cincinnati's largest selection of lush hanging baskets, colorful annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs under one roof.
The event benefits the Cincinnati Horticultural Society, producers of the Cincinnati Flower Show.