Gardeners give greens to needy
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 10:18 am
A group of gardeners are not only putting food on their own tables this month, but on the plates of those in need.
Members of a DeWinton garden club have been growing lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, turnips, parsley and carrots in two four-by-10 foot plots the past four months specifically for the Okotoks Food Bank.
Sharon McCormick, who spearheaded the club through her business Poppy Innovations in May, said she decided to designate two of the eight plots for the food bank to give the benefits of fresh vegetables to those who might not otherwise get any.
McCormick said every one of her gardeners took part by donating their own seeds, planting, weeding, watering and finally harvesting.
On Sept. 10, she brought two cardboard boxes full of vegetables to the food bank’s doors.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” she said. “Gardening is really rewarding and having to pass that on to someone else who wouldn’t get the same kind of organic produce is great. A great part of being a community is to share.”
Garden club member Louise Tinant of Okotoks said she was glad to play a role in ensuring families in her community get fresh vegetables on their tables this month.
“Just a few extra seeds can benefit someone else so why not,” she said.
Living in a condo, Tinant didn’t have access to a garden of her own and is glad to now have that opportunity.
“There is something really good about planting your own food and harvesting it,” she said. “This provides a way to live that kind of lifestyle or incorporate it into your life if you don’t have any place to put your own garden. There is something cool about making a salad that you grew all by yourself.”
Okotoks Food Bank executive director Karen Wilke happily received the donation of veggies at their Okotoks United Church location and was informed more is coming as the harvest continues.
She said it’s common for the food bank to receive fresh produce this time of year and it’s a big help to the non-profit organization.
“We didn’t have to buy potatoes this week because of this,” she said. “There is nothing like fresh.”
Last year, the food bank received a variety of potatoes, carrots, onions and other root vegetables, which Wilke said are the easiest to store in their current facility, which has become too small to store the amount of food needed to meet their clients’ needs.
Wilke said the donation of a walk-in refrigerator for their new facility will allow them to accept a wider variety of fresh foods.
For now, donations like lettuce and green onions are placed on a table for clients to select from when picking up their hampers, Wilke said.
“More selection and availability of fresh produce is great to provide to our clients,” she said. “Most of our clients think of the food bank as canned goods.”
McCormick said she initiated the community garden, which has members from Calgary, DeWinton, Okotoks and High River, in an effort to build a healthier community.
“My whole reason is to give people access who don’t have the space or knowledge,” she said. “We are offering fresh, wholesome foods.”
Through Poppy Innovations, she offers education and workshops featuring gardening experts on such topics as insects, freezing and storing and gardening for children.
She hopes her club’s donation will prompt other community gardens to donate their harvested vegetables to their local food banks and raise awareness around healthier food choices.