Craig Bakay | Jul 17, 2019
To a certain extent, one of the biggest secrets on last weeks South Frontenac Community Services Garden Tour was right in their own back yard — the Food Bank Community Garden.
It’s actually been up and running for seven years, having been started by Master Gardener Janette Haase when she lived in the area. And its been a success on several levels, according to current garden steward Alan Macdonald, whose day job is teaching at Loughborough Public School.
“The Food Bank doesn’t tend to get as many donations in summer and that’s when the demand seems to be highest,” Macdonald said. “For one thing, kids do often get fed at school and when it’s not in session, they still have to eat.”
The garden/greenhouse goes a long way towards bridging that gap, he said.
But a community garden does a lot more than put food in hungry mouths, he said.
“A lot of our volunteers are students,” he said. “And it goes a long way to empower them, giving them a method for change by teaching them how to grow their own food.
“It also shows them that what’s on your plate is as much effect as what’s in your driveway.”
He said the garden is as much a classroom as any other.
“They learn about soil biology,” he said. “This is one of the few classrooms where results are measured by who has the dirtiest hands.”
It also meshes well with many in-class subjects such as learning how to cook and meal planning, he said.
“And some of these kids are potential food-bank users of the future,” he said.
And it teaches them to deal with problems that arise, often in creative ways.
“We’ve had a problem with battling Colorado potato beetles,” he said. “We’ve brought in some parasitic wasps and praying mantis eggs.”
They’ve also learned about things like floating row covers, which protect against bugs but also extend growing seasons.
Finally, they learn a lot from the adult volunteers that help out, many of whom are retired seniors with a love of gardening and lifetimes of experience.
“It’s very much an intergenerational story,” Macdonald said.
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