Community garden harvest provides produce for charities

The latest yield from the community garden run by Home Hardware saw close to 3,700 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables go to local charities. In its sixth year, the program offered by the St. Jacobs-based company was in demand given the increase in food insecurity since the pandemic began.

Since the program was launched, the community garden has provided more than 17,000 pounds of produce to support local food banks and other charities. This year, produce such as beans, cabbage, cucumber, zucchini, potatoes and beets went to the Meals on Wheels program run by Community Support Connections and the food hamper program at Woolwich Community Services.

The community garden is run by Home Hardware staff and volunteers on an acre of land across from Home Hardware’s dealer support centre in St. Jacobs.

“My heart is full knowing we’ve been able to help families in need access good quality produce,” said Julia Swijters, the community garden organizer. “The community garden initiative and the camaraderie we felt as a team when we met multiple times a week to tend to the garden was also a source of therapy and support during a challenging time.”

One third of the garden is set aside to harvest produce for local food banks and for personal garden plots for Home Hardware’s employees and their families. Their final harvests of the season is expected to wrap up this weekend.

“I am incredibly proud of our staff and all of the community volunteers who worked so hard this year to provide close to 3,700 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to local charities,” said Scott Bryant, vice-president of human resources for Home Hardware Stores Limited. “Working with the community garden team on this initiative was inspiring, and a true reflection of Home’s commitment to supporting our community.”

The initiative has been a welcome addition to the food bank services run by Woolwich Community Services, said executive director Kelly Christie.

“We are seeing increased need in our community due to the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said in a statement. “The incredible fresh produce donations we receive from Home Hardware’s community garden provide food security to many local families by allowing them access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables they could not afford otherwise.”

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