Community garden fills need at food bank

Saanich Community Food Bank Garden produces about 1,500 pounds of vegetables for the Mustard Seed Food Bank every year

Alison Allison Gratz picks some cherry tomatoes at the Saanich Community Food Bank Garden. The garden produces about 1

A dedicated group of Saanich gardeners is digging deep to help others in need.

A small band of volunteers spend their Saturdays from April through September at the Saanich Community Church where they tend the soil and harvest the bounty at the Saanich Community Food Bank Garden.

“The purpose is to produce food for the food bank,” said co-ordinator Allison Gratz, who was there when the idea first germinated nine years ago.

“It was started off because we wanted to be good stewards of the land. The land [on the church property] just wasn’t being used at all. We thought we could start a garden there.”

The bounty of vegetables grown is then turned over to Victoria’s Mustard Seed Food Bank.

“They just can’t get enough good-quality fresh produce,” said Gratz. “They get some donations of food, but often it is seconds, and that’s understandable. But ours are some of the only ones that are grown expressly for them.”

She said the garden can produce about 1,500 pounds of vegetables in a year, estimating the value at about $6,000. During the peak, she said they harvested about 85 pounds of cherry tomatoes and 150 pounds of beans.

“And that was just in one week. That was a lot of picking.”

Gratz doesn’t have a figure for how many meals all the vegetables picked throughout the year translates to.

“I haven’t calculated, probably thousands. I don’t know, how many pounds of beans can someone eat at a meal?”

She said there’s a core group of a half dozen or so volunteers, with another 40 or 50 people making their way out to the garden once or twice a year.

She said over the years the volunteers have improved their gardening skills, getting better at producing more food. There are a few staples that can regularly be found in the 1,600 square feet of garden space at the church.

“We’ve gotten really good at growing beans and cherry tomatoes, and had some success with potatoes, squash and zucchinis. Then we have root vegetables like beets and parsnips and carrots,” said Gratz, adding they also grow some herbs, which can be fairly expensive, along with grapes and apples along the edges of the garden.

While the Mustard Seed is able to get top-quality produce out of the arrangement, Gratz said it also brings a benefit to the volunteers.

“I love it, and it’s more fun to pull weeds and everything with other people,” she said.

“I’ve always grown up having garden-fresh produce, it’s just something that’s always been a part of my life. If I’m able to help other people who are not able to have access to that kind of really tasty food, I’m really happy to do that.”

She said it’s also made her a better gardener, comparing the sharing of information to something “like a hive mind.”

“There’s one person who’s really great at tomatoes and someone else is this amazing orchardist and has been able to help us out with the fruit thing. Someone else is really good at irrigation. We’ve just been blessed to have all these really good people around. We’re just learning all the time.”

The community garden is always looking for more hands to help out with the work. Anyone interested in volunteering can email saanichfoodbankgarden@gmail.com. You can also visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/SaanichCommunity FoodBankGarden.

 

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

Sea Cadets host a garage sale for Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground

Proceeds from a garage sale going to the Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground.

Nurse comes home to ‘dream job’ at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Jane Fox is the first Aboriginal liaison nurse at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Killer clowns and chainsaw-wielding ghouls descend on Central Saanich corn maze

Fright Night takes place at Saanichton Corn Maze Oct 19, 26

Key tag program leads to new respirator at Jubilee Hospital

TB Vets donate 28 life-saving respirators around B.C.

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Dog killed in alleged hit and run, Goodlife Marathon takes over city and more

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Most Read