More fresh produce and herbs may soon be on the Meals on Wheels menu thanks to a hefty donation destined for the creation of a garden at Community Support Connections office in Breslau.
A contribution of $24,800 from the local charitable organization 100 Women Who Care Waterloo Region will give CSC the funds needed to get started on a garden, providing homegrown vegetables for the meals prepared in their on-site kitchen.
Rosalind Horne, the director of engagement and responsiveness at CSC, says they are looking forward to seeing what the nearly $25,000 can do for their programs.
“It is a huge and significant contribution for us, and it will allow us to get to things that have been on our to-do list and wish list for years,” she said, referencing the organization’s new location. “We just moved into this facility about two years ago and we did so not only to be able to have our own kitchen for Meals on Wheels, but we picked this location in particular because it had the extra outdoor space where we could build that garden. It is exciting for our clients and the community.”
The money is not just going towards tilling the soil and planting seeds, but also towards the already installed living wall in their conference room at the Breslau building. The living wall is already flourishing with herbs like sage, basil and rosemary, mixed in with some tropical plants. Breslau company Nedlaw Living Walls installed the wall and a skylight above it just a few weeks ago. Now, they are watching to see what will work on the living wall, and what will die out.
Horne says all the extra fresh ingredients will be a huge bonus and will help kitchen staff and volunteers cater to dietary needs of their Meals on Wheels clients.
“We are able to accommodate 11 different therapeutic diets – maybe it is low salt, low fat or low sugar. We can do all of that,” she said. “The fact that we can start with fresh local produce, we can easily reduce the salt content in a meal. We will be starting the meals with fresh building blocks.”
Ground hasn’t been broken on the CSC garden quite yet, but the group is working with a local planner to get things moving. They will be figuring out what is viable, and what is needed the most in the Meals on Wheels kitchen.
“We have given him a list of things that we would like to grow, whether they are items that we use lots of, or are more expensive to buy and that we go through a lot of. Things like tomatoes, or peppers, that are easy to grow in Ontario,” said Horne. “We will use around six flats of tomatoes just for one pot of soup. We do about 350 meals a day, so we go through a lot. We are figuring out things like how many tomatoes we need and how much land that is going to take. It is the perfect spot. There is so much room. We can even maybe put some apple trees in, some longer term investment items, for sure.”
The group is also looking at putting in a smaller garden with hard surfaces and raised vegetable plants so volunteers with accessibility issues can participate in the growing of veggies and fruits for their community.