Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Food For Everyone - Community Garden Project

Plans for the community garden and our veggie plants for the food banks are underway. Will you help? Can we help you? Let us know what you think and any ideas you have and your favourite garden recipes. We want to make 2017 our best sharing year ever. 

Here's the problem.

Many people in the local area eat a highly processed diet with few veggies. This can be due to preferences and cooking skills, lack of access, food bank use which typically means food with a good shelf life, or lack of knowledge on how to grow a garden. We believe that a diet full of fresh veggies and frozen produce in your freezer can make you not only feel better but be genuinely healthier. And we want to help. 

Here's the vision.

We rototill the community garden area and start a collection of seeds and transplants for people who either can't afford them, don't have a place to grow, or maybe they just need a hand up. Allotment growers do all planting and weeding, we will water during the week. 

People carpool, catch a ride or take the bus and walk to the community garden at the farm on a nice Saturday morning. There's a festival feel as everyone grabs tools from the tool shed and heads out into their plots to see what's grown since the last time they were here. Each allotment is different from its neighbours with peas, beet greens, lettuce and some exotic things not seen before. Each family or person tends their own little garden space, pulling weeds and thinning radishes until it's to their liking and then they lean on a shovel for a visit with their next plot neighbours. The community area is planted with lettuce that are ready for harvesting so they organize themselves into a small pick/pack crew and a wash crew. Everyone works together and splits the community produce between them with the extras being put in boxes in the cool room for the food bank. It varies each week. Some weeks it's planting, some weeks different people come, but every week it's productive and people leave feeling they've done something good. Seniors teach children how to plant, mums and dads trade recipes, and everyone learns a little. We teach approximately 20 young people from all over the world about gardening each year and they most often go on to grow food and teach others. They live with us and work in the garden then they go home and adapt what they learned to their own lives. 

Idealistic? Maybe. Idyllic? Certainly. 

We believe that by giving people plants, seeds and skills we can improve health and food security for everyone in our community but especially for families and seniors. Everyone can grow a little food. Everyone can eat a little better. Everyone can be a little healthier. 

That's our goal, a garden in every yard. And where yards aren't available, allotments. If the town and municipality could designate community garden space we feel that the potential benefits are huge in terms of health, social connectedness and community spirit, and food security. Give people a chance to lift themselves out of poverty or at least have a better and healthier life. It'll take time, it'll be hard work, but the benefits to the community and healthcare over the long term are great. 

We weren't able to get our local town interested in supporting a farmers market which is why we've been operating in a neighbouring town for the past 3 years but I'm still hopeful the support will be there for a garden/food program. Please share any feedback and advice. And happy gardening in 2017. 

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