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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Gala to fund URI Master Gardeners’ Community Gardens program, Sept. 30

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

Food Bank, Farm Fresh, Aquidneck Land Trust to be honored

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 7, 2011 – The Master Gardener Foundation of Rhode Island will host a fundraising gala, Harvesting the Bounty, on Sept. 30 to fund equipment and supplies to establish and maintain the URI Master Gardener Association’s community gardens throughout Rhode Island. The event, at Blithewold Mansion in Bristol, begins at 6 p.m. and will feature a silent auction and a diverse array of local gourmet foods.

“It is sobering to note that Rhode Island has one of the highest hunger rates per capita in the country, which is why these community gardens are so vital to our state’s residents,” said Tom Gorski, chair of the event. “It’s relatively easy to get canned foods to the needy, but getting them fresh produce is always a problem.”

Gorski and Greta Cohen, chair of the Master Gardener Foundation, said that there are nine community gardens in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts that grow 12,500 pounds of produce for the needy each year, and several more are planned for next year. URI Master Gardeners serve as consultants to many of the gardens, helping to get them established and teaching sustainable gardening techniques to local volunteers who plan, plant, maintain and harvest them.

All of the produce grown at the community gardens is donated to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank or other local food pantries.

“The hundreds of certified Master Gardeners in Rhode Island do an amazing amount of good for our state, from community outreach and educationally sound research to support for sustainable landscapes,” said Cohen. “They contribute thousands of volunteer hours every year. We hope this event will help raise additional funding for this most deserving project to feed the hungry of Rhode Island.”

During the gala event, the Master Gardener Foundation’s Tradition of Excellence Award will be presented to recognize those who have taken extraordinary steps to feed Rhode Island’s hungry and restore the environment. The honorees are Andrew Schiff, chief executive officer of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Noah Fulmer, executive director of Farm Fresh Rhode Island, and the Aquidneck Land Trust.

The honorary chairman of the event is Marc Perlman, president of Ocean State Job Lot, which provides thousands of free seed packets to the Master Gardeners each year for distribution to community gardens, schools, senior centers, nursing homes and other groups. The master of ceremonies will be NBC10 news anchor Gene Valicenti.

Event sponsors include Amica Insurance, Toray Plastics, AAA, Meridian Printing, A Piece of Paradise, Belmont Market and Lakeside Trading Co.

Tickets to the Harvesting the Bounty gala are $75 per person and can be purchased by calling Mamie Chen at 401-874-2900. Questions can also be directed to mgf2011gala@yahoo.com.

The Master Gardener Foundation of Rhode Island is a nonprofit corporation that provides long-term financial support for the URI Master Gardener Association’s programs and activities.