Green thumbs are once again coming together to help feed those in need this summer as the Greater Napanee Community Garden prepares for its ninth growing season.
Volunteers were out at the plot of land donated by Gord and Karen Schermerhorn at 517 County Road 8 on Monday, tilling the soil and installing raised beds as they prepare to plant the seeds.
The word ‘community’ is a perfect title for the gardens, as they not only feed those in the area, but it’s also tended by all walks of life.
“Everything we grow is for the food bank,” said Susan Withers, one of the volunteers. “Any overflow will go to Morningstar Mission and Interval House. (Lennox and Addington) Community Mental Health, they come once a week and it offers them a program for their clients. They work in the gardens and they’re free to take a little bit of stuff for their cooking class.”
Withers says the program wouldn’t be possible without help from the Napanee Lions Club, Horticultural Society and the Greater Napanee Emergency Services fire department, which stocks the garden’s water tanks, free of charge. That service was particularly helpful during the drought two years ago.
Starting from this week and now throughout the fall, volunteers will meet at the garden every Monday, unless it’s a holiday in which case they meet Wednesday.
“The people that come to the Community Garden to work are all here for the same purpose,” said Jane Smith, another of the volunteers. “We come every Monday at 8 a.m. and work for about an hour and a half, sometimes two hours. We plant everything, we amend the soil.”
New this year the group will be using a series of wood frame raised beds in an effort to increase their productivity. They were able to pay for the beds, as well as a soon to be built tool shed, courtesy a grant from the Feeding Fresh Sysco Community Garden Grant from the Ontario Association of Food Banks.
That grant couldn’t have come at a better time, as the tool shed that was on site was destroyed by last week’s wind storm.
“We have to fundraise for every nickel that we’ve ever put in here,” said Withers.
Though there can be a lot of work that goes into tending the garden throughout the summer, for the volunteers it’s simply a labour of love and their way of helping the local food bank provide nutritious food to those in need.
“Most of us have been working together since the beginning and it’s really a great group,” said Withers. “We all like each others, we all enjoy what we’re doing and we all enjoy gardening.”
The group is always looking for volunteers and there’s no commitment needed, they’re welcome to show up whenever they can. Anyone interested in helping out can meet at the garden on Mondays at 8 a.m.