April 9, 2018 - Sault Ste. Marie’s community farm, “Food Bank Farm” has been helping the city and surrounding area since 2017. Formerly known as the “Purple Scallion”, this social enterprise makes it it’s mission to ensure everyone has access to fresh food, no matter their financial situation. In March of 2016, over 330 000 people used a food bank in Ontario alone. Incorporating nutritious items is important for food banks as statistics show that healthy eating habits reduces the risk of many different health problems.
Lead by Operations Managers, Isabelle Torttier-Saucier and Colin Templeton, the farm produces large volumes of high quality produce, including swiss chard, turnips, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, squash and much more. Isabelle and Colin have recognized a growing need in the community, and strive to have fresh food available to the public for as long as they can throughout the summer and fall seasons.
With the help of volunteers, produce is harvested and brought directly to the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre, where patrons have the option to pick and choose what they want and need, free of charge. The Soup Kitchen also uses food from the farm to cook meals and to teach cooking classes.
In order to create such a vast amount of food, they need to get started early in the season; planting starts in the greenhouse on April 1 of each year. Once the weather becomes ideal, the crops are transferred and planted in the field. Colin spends a lot of his time planning and scheduling the growing season in order to ensure that there are always a variety of vegetables available each week.
Growing, harvesting, packaging and distributing crops does not come without a cost. In order to keep the operation going, the Food Bank Farm’s goal for 2018 is to raise $25 000 for their short 15-week season. As a non-profit organization, who relies strictly on donations to operate, The Food Bank Farm depends on generous community members such as local sponsors and donors, volunteers, and the United Way in order to support their project. The farm, located on Maki Road, uses land, buildings and equipment donated by the property owners, Colin and Sharon Templeton.
Volunteers are critical to the project as they allow the farm to operate efficiently for the duration of the season. Volunteers participate in many tasks including seeding, transplanting, harvesting, packaging, fertilizing, weeding and many other tasks. Isabelle notes; “Although we have many gardening-related responsibilities, we are also seeking volunteers to help us with communications, accounting, and more. There is always something to do no matter your age, availability or physical capabilities! It would be great to have 40-50 volunteers for the season.”
Along with providing the public with free produce, Colin and a dedicated volunteer – Ayushi Shah also spearheaded a “Grow-A-Row Program”. The program encourages backyard gardeners to grow extra vegetables in their garden and donate their produce by dropping it off at one of several, easy-accessible locations across the city organized by the Food Bank Farm. The donated produce is combined with that grown at the farm, and distributed to those in need throughout the community.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Food Bank Farm, or participating in the Grow-A-Row Program, you can call Colin at 705-255-1549. If you want to donate, or to learn more information about the project you can visit their website here.
Jenna Marsh is a Communications Officer for Northern Policy Institute. This blog originally appeared in "Due North", Northern Policy Institute's monthly newsletter. To suscribe to Due North click here.
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