Marvin Makofsky, founder of Plant A Row for the Hungry...

Marvin Makofsky, founder of Plant A Row for the Hungry Port Washington, stands by a local library exhibit Tuesday that highlights his organization's efforts to combat food insecurity. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

A new gallery at the Port Washington Public Library helps educate residents on the benefits of gardening and donating fresh produce, but it also gives Marvin Makofsky a chance to reflect on the impact his grassroots nonprofit has made on the community.

Plant A Row for the Hungry Port Washington, a nonprofit dedicated to growing and distributing produce to local food insecure families, has donated more than 57,000 pounds of produce since its inception in 2010, according to the organization.

“You can’t do this without passion,” said nonprofit founder Makofsky, 79, as he glanced at the gallery showcasing the organization's work. “If you have the good fortune to see your effort come to fruition, you’re very fortunate.”

The exhibit, which will be featured until the end of March, highlights partnerships and the more than 50 volunteers that have participated by planting an extra row of vegetables in their garden or planter to donate.

The Port Washington-based volunteers range from students from Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School and the Helen Keller National Center to local business owners, master gardeners and a group of individuals with special needs at the Nicholas Center for Autism.

The gallery showcase is being presented in conjunction with an upcoming five-part virtual series, hosted by the library, that aims to introduce techniques and methods on how to successfully start and maintain a vegetable garden.

“The mission of Plant A Row and serving the community and giving back to the community just fits what we strive to do as a public library,” said library director Keith Klang.

Klang said they’ve hosted virtual gardening programs for the past few years and the number of participants continues to grow.

The nonprofit's food is homegrown and delivered between March and the end of November, said Makofsky, who calls himself the organization's "Chief Vegetable Garden Executive."

The Bayles Garden Center & Nursery in Port Washington serves as a drop-off location where produce is stored and refrigerated. Volunteers then deliver the food to Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church’s outreach center, also in Port Washington, which distributes it to families in need.

While the median income in Port Washington for 2021 was $156,214, according to U.S. census data, officials said some families in the area are living paycheck to paycheck and need assistance getting food.

That’s where Sister Kathy Somerville, who supervises the church's outreach programs and food pantry, comes into the equation. Somerville said the pantry supplies food to about 140 families in the Manorhaven area.

“For them sometimes it may come down to, do you pay your rent or do you have money for food,” Somerville said.

The nonprofit supplies popular produce such as potatoes, carrots, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, among other items.

“Marvin’s program for us, it’s amazing because people would not be getting fresh vegetables,” Somerville said. “ … We could only supply canned foods.”

North Hempstead Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte, a supporter of the nonprofit, said she believes other communities will take Plant A Row’s model and implement it.

“It touched so many different generations here,” she said. “I see it growing every year. It’s getting bigger and bigger.”

Plant A Row will be looking for new board members and an executive director, said Makofsky, a self-employed sales executive.

“Legacy is extremely important when there is something that needs to be done everyday in the week … hunger is a very big deal in the country,” he noted.

A new gallery at the Port Washington Public Library helps educate residents on the benefits of gardening and donating fresh produce, but it also gives Marvin Makofsky a chance to reflect on the impact his grassroots nonprofit has made on the community.

Plant A Row for the Hungry Port Washington, a nonprofit dedicated to growing and distributing produce to local food insecure families, has donated more than 57,000 pounds of produce since its inception in 2010, according to the organization.

“You can’t do this without passion,” said nonprofit founder Makofsky, 79, as he glanced at the gallery showcasing the organization's work. “If you have the good fortune to see your effort come to fruition, you’re very fortunate.”

The exhibit, which will be featured until the end of March, highlights partnerships and the more than 50 volunteers that have participated by planting an extra row of vegetables in their garden or planter to donate.

The Port Washington-based volunteers range from students from Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School and the Helen Keller National Center to local business owners, master gardeners and a group of individuals with special needs at the Nicholas Center for Autism.

The gallery showcase is being presented in conjunction with an upcoming five-part virtual series, hosted by the library, that aims to introduce techniques and methods on how to successfully start and maintain a vegetable garden.

“The mission of Plant A Row and serving the community and giving back to the community just fits what we strive to do as a public library,” said library director Keith Klang.

Klang said they’ve hosted virtual gardening programs for the past few years and the number of participants continues to grow.

The nonprofit's food is homegrown and delivered between March and the end of November, said Makofsky, who calls himself the organization's "Chief Vegetable Garden Executive."

The Bayles Garden Center & Nursery in Port Washington serves as a drop-off location where produce is stored and refrigerated. Volunteers then deliver the food to Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church’s outreach center, also in Port Washington, which distributes it to families in need.

While the median income in Port Washington for 2021 was $156,214, according to U.S. census data, officials said some families in the area are living paycheck to paycheck and need assistance getting food.

That’s where Sister Kathy Somerville, who supervises the church's outreach programs and food pantry, comes into the equation. Somerville said the pantry supplies food to about 140 families in the Manorhaven area.

“For them sometimes it may come down to, do you pay your rent or do you have money for food,” Somerville said.

The nonprofit supplies popular produce such as potatoes, carrots, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, among other items.

“Marvin’s program for us, it’s amazing because people would not be getting fresh vegetables,” Somerville said. “ … We could only supply canned foods.”

North Hempstead Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte, a supporter of the nonprofit, said she believes other communities will take Plant A Row’s model and implement it.

“It touched so many different generations here,” she said. “I see it growing every year. It’s getting bigger and bigger.”

Plant A Row will be looking for new board members and an executive director, said Makofsky, a self-employed sales executive.

“Legacy is extremely important when there is something that needs to be done everyday in the week … hunger is a very big deal in the country,” he noted.

Seeds of change

To get involved in the nonprofit, find more information at plantarowforthehungry.org

Visit pwpl.org for details on the Port Washington Public Library's five part virtual vegetable gardening series, which starts Feb. 28.

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