Local church provides garden fresh produce to neighbours and community centres during times of need
Kortright Presbyterian Church (KPC) had one small garden (pictured above to the right) when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Brian Watson, church elder, and Justin Sytsma, worship and outreach director, knew that they could not sit idly while the community was in need. They were thinking about what food security might look like come September 2020 and decided to utilize their own garden resources. KPC planned to expand their garden and add two more plots (as pictured above) to help address the increased food insecurity brought on by the pandemic. In 2019, there were already preliminary conversations about how to be good stewards of the land and broaden their horizons, so it was perfect timing to expand the garden. With a volunteer team of 14-16 people, KPC had the resources to scale-up their gardens and help their community.
To help expand their garden even further, KPC applied to the Seeding Our Food Future (SOFF) Program as it aligned with their goals of increasing access to nutritious foods. Their project for SOFF included expanding their garden by 3.8 times for a total of ¼ acre of garden space. KPC has a general neighbourhood area in their garden where they grow a variety of leafy greens, root vegetables, and herbs. The garden is harvested on a weekly basis by the team and shared with anyone in the neighbourhood who passes through the area outside of the garden. At the end of the day, another volunteer will come by and help distribute the remaining produce, making sure nothing is wasted.
In addition to the neighbourhood garden, KPC grows staple vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and onions) for Royal City Mission, Hope House, and Chalmers Community Services Centre. With the newly expanded area, KPC will be able to double the neighbourhood section of the garden and focus the rest of the space on staples for community centres. For this upcoming season, KPC is hoping to add celery and cabbage to their list of staples. They are also planning to expand their neighbourhood reach into the Conroy Crescent area behind Dovercliffe Park. The KPC garden project is central to their faith and is focused on supporting local communities out of their love for God. They want to ensure that all people will not only be able to access nutritious food but feel supported by their community.
For KPC, circularity is about looking for greater opportunities to support their community. Justin describes that an opportunity might exist for business who no longer have a facility to use the site. This would employ locals and generate extra produce on the site. This can create economic strength, increase employment, and give back to the community. KPC is looking at the resources they have and using them to help others.
Photos provided by Kortright Presbyterian Church