Plants and herbs were ready to go, and grow, at the...

Plants and herbs were ready to go, and grow, at the third Garden and Give event Saturday in Plainview. From left, Raychel Thurau, Lisa Jasper, Alissa Stollwerk, Dara Stollwerk 6, Jason Cohen, and Abby Stollwerk 9. Credit: Joseph Sperber

From a few seeds sprout a grassroots movement of gardeners helping families in need.

Engage Long Island, a group of volunteers who advocate for vulnerable populations, hosted its third Garden and Give event Saturday in Plainview, where nearly 40 people took home donated herbs and vegetable starter plants for their own gardens.

The produce they'll grow — tomatoes, eggplants, onions, lettuce, cucumbers and more — can be donated to a nonprofit organization, Jericho Cares, for distribution.

Organizers say it’s an opportunity for residents not only to learn about growing produce in home gardens, but a chance for them to provide Long Island families with fresh vegetables that can otherwise be difficult to find at food pantries.

“We’re sending people home with an entire vegetable starter garden,” said Rachel Klein, founder of Engage Long Island, who hosted the event in her backyard.

The event was a collaboration that included Island Harvest, a Long Island hunger relief organization, which supplied the starter plants, as well as the social welfare organization Indivisible, which issued grant funding to Engage Long Island.

Engage Long Island evolved from its original name, Long Islanders for Gun Safety, to focus on a wider mission of supporting different kinds of community-based projects, organizers said.

The group has between 100 and 150 active members.

Raychel Thurau, of East Meadow, Engage Long Island’s unofficial horticulturist, said the Garden and Give event began a few years ago with distribution of seeds.

The gardeners Saturday gathered in the backyard around three tables filled with herbs such as parsley, rosemary and basil. They scooped out whatever they wanted and placed them into a ceramic planter to bring home.

Along the back of the yard, the vegetable and fruit plants were lined up on the grass.

“Today is like a hands-on approach of how to start a herb garden,” Thurau said.

Each person also received an orange marigold plant — helpful for keeping pests away from the garden.

Jericho Cares started in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist families in need. Ellie Musmeci, the organization’s vice president, said families are “very excited” when fresh produce is available since most donations are nonperishable items.

Klein reminded the gardeners that even if they may not grow a ton, all of the work collectively makes a difference.

She said as a group it becomes a “bountiful, incredible donation.”

Alison Carey, a music teacher at Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Plainview, carried a large tray of plants that she was bringing back to the school for its garden. She also planned to grab another batch for a garden at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School.

“It’s a nice way to engage people,” Carey said.

Any unclaimed plants will as be donated to the middle school, said Ann Budano Koch, an Engage Long Island leader.

Samara Feinberg, of Syosset, picked out strawberry, onion, eggplant and pepper plants with her 8-year-old daughter, Kayla.

Feinberg said it’s the first time in a few years they’ll try a vegetable garden.

“It’s a lot of upkeep, but we thought now we have a reason to upkeep it and a mission,” she said.

USMMA sexual assaults … Man dies in Baldwin fire … What's up on LI Credit: Newsday

Shortage of HS refs ... USMMA sexual assaults ... Dementia spikes among WTC first responders ... 

USMMA sexual assaults … Man dies in Baldwin fire … What's up on LI Credit: Newsday

Shortage of HS refs ... USMMA sexual assaults ... Dementia spikes among WTC first responders ... 

Latest Videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME