University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners Seeking Plant Donations for Local Food Pantries



UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION – Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall, Putnam Unit


University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners Seeking Plant Donations for Local Food Pantries

 “Give a family a vegetable, you feed them for a day. Teach a family to garden, you feed them for life.” 

This proverbial wisdom, adapted from the popular “Give a man a fish…” saying, is the driving goal behind the Healthy Gardening Project chaired by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Barb Dahlbach of Marshall County. The project is in its ninth year and was conceived by Dahlbach because, according to her, “if you cannot afford to put food on your table, you certainly cannot afford to buy plants to start a garden”. The underlying goal of this project is to empower families to provide themselves with low-cost, healthful, fresh food through establishment of a home garden. In order to accomplish this, Ms. Dahlbach, along with other Marshall-Putnam Master Gardener volunteers, provide local families utilizing the food pantries with initial supplies and skills to start a home garden, including plants, containers, and soil, as well as seeds.  For the last several years they have given away over 1000 plants and thousands of seeds yearly to Food Pantry clients in Marshall and Putnam Counties.  

Due to the current COVID-19 global pandemic and guidelines for social distancing, the Master Gardeners are unable this year to use a common space in which to grow plants for this project.  Consequently, there will be little to no plants for the food pantries. If you start your own plants from seeds, the University of Illinois Marshall-Putnam Master Gardeners need your help to help fulfill the mission of the “Healthy Gardening” project. 

Plants are scheduled to be given away to food pantries beginning second week of May.  If you have room, please consider planting a flat for the Food Pantries. The Marshall-Putnam Master Gardeners are especially interested in receiving peppers, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli, but will be happy to accept any garden vegetables or herbs.  This is a year that plants will be on demand as the economy will be putting more burden on the food pantries. 

            If you are interested in donating plants, please contact University of Illinois Extension Program Coordinator Meg Overocker at with the subject line “Plant Donations”, or you may leave a message with your contact information at the University of Illinois Extension office at (815) 224-0889. Thank you in advance for any help!


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Local Contact: Meg E. Overocker

Date: 3/26/20