Grow a Row was founded in 2002 with a small plot and one volunteer. From there it grew under the direction of Chip Paillex, who started off with core of volunteers comprised of friends and family and then expanded to his local church. It continued to grow every year at astonishing speeds. Now in 2012, over 2,000 volunteers have helped donate over 1.7 million pounds of harvest for food banks state wide.
The Seton Hall Pirates came down and picked a crop of winter and butternut squash which will be delivered to food banks in towns such as Newark, Paterson and Jersey City. Through the work of the SHU athletes and other volunteers, this organization is able to provide fresh produce to families in need.
"Today the Seton Hall athletes not only provided fresh produce for those in need, but they also provided hope to those folks who are food insecure here in New Jersey," commented Paillex, the president and founder of Grow a Row. "Their actions today sent a message to the recipients that they care enough to take the time out of their weekends to help a stranger. And they went the distance today too, harvesting around 22,000 pounds or approximately 80,000 servings of fresh produce that will be enjoyed by thousands of folks tomorrow and over the next few days."
Seton Hall alumni have a strong connection with this charity as Grow a Row supports Team Walker. Former Seton Hall basketball star, Jerry Walker and his charity Team Walker have been deeply involved with Grow a Row as Jerry brings a group of young kids out to the farm every summer for them to learn about farming and also to bring home a great harvest to their families.
Additionally, every other Saturday from late summer to mid fall, Grow a Row has a free farmers market in Jersey City on the Dr. Lena Edwards courts where Jerry runs his youth programs.
The student-athletes picked vegetables for almost three hours on a perfect fall day on the 138 Acre farm. Athletes from baseball, soccer, volleyball, and cross country all worked together to set a record for the most produce picked on one day by any group.
"The experience was very enriching and I'm happy that it was done to help others in need," Senior cross country student-athlete Hughnique Rolle said.
"I've never done anything like it before, it's very hard work but knowing that every squash we picked was feeding someone in need, was well worth it. It's such a great way to share God's grace to the hungry," Scott Kalamar, a SHU baseball player commented.
With the Seton Hall connection getting stronger, the student-athletes commented they are looking forward to coming back next fall to continue the partnership and begin a great fall service tradition.