The Glace Bay Food Bank community garden is coordinated by Kimberly McPherson, who started it last year as a volunteer. He received $6,000 from Compass Group Canada and Food Banks Canada in order to start this project.
This community garden works in a specific way: grows different produce for families using the food bank. Moreover, they have a daily hot meal program where they use their herbs and vegetables and they also use these for canning during winter time, making jam, chow, beets, and pickles.
During the first year of their operation, there were “only” 50 various vegetables as well as herbs that were planted in the garden. The garden produced a large Butter Crunch head of lettuce that turned into 76 subs exactly a couple of weeks ago.
During the past weeks, the food bank also added free salads to the orders that families made, such as bags of lettuce, spinach, and radishes, as well as salad dressings. In the month of July, exactly 299 families were fed by the help of this food bank, including 982 hot meals and 217 children in terms of numbers.
The food bank also started a program called “Come cook together” for families with children. In the program, parents and their children came and learned how to cook various vegetables. Also they got some information on healthy food as well as food safety.
What happened with the garden?
One of the food bank’s coordinators is Patricia Hurley, who stated that they discovered something terrible happened. She was informed of the damage by a volunteer working in the garden. Fred Peach, the volunteer who first saw the damage was “devastated” by this act of vandalism.
Someone had dumped some motor oil or some type of furnace oil over e great portion of the community garden. Patricia also claimed how sad and angry she was because this community is a non-profit organization that exists only to help people feed.
Fred Peach promised with tears in his eyes to work on the repairing of the garden as much as he can. The photos below show the devastation of the garden. A big chunk of the garden was ruined and the soil was also contaminated.
Among the vegetables that had to be thrown away were around 200 cucumbers, as well as beet and peppers, because they were contaminated. Fred Peach says: “I was the one who built the cucumber bed that was destroyed, which would have been about 200 cucumbers at the end of the year.
That didn’t happen. It is very devastating to me.” He has plans on doing things a lot better next year in the garden and plans to plant more vegetables as well. The worst part of this vandalizing act is that someone literally “took food out of people’s mouths”.
This community food bank was doing its best to provide vegetables for people who just couldn’t afford them. People say that they also found traces of oil in some other parts of the garden, mainly on a pallet of lettuce plants and flowers at the back of the building. These flowers were mostly a donation for decorating the back yard.
Overall, coordinators and volunteers say that they are grateful that the main garden is okay. After the event, they started sorting plants out to throw all the vegetables that were contaminated and calculated their loss.
Dave MacKeigan, who is the chair of the board of directors in the food bank, stated that he found the event very upsetting, saying: “It is a premeditated, mindless vandalism.”
This social project made up of volunteers is probably going to sparkle again and hopefully the police will get the information on who stood behind this act. Shannon Kerr, who is a spokesperson for the CBRPS, stated that the police launched an investigation, asking the public for more information if they knew anything on the event.
The food bank has so far received huge help from the community. Families with their children have volunteered their time to help. For example, students from Glace Bay High School have built garden boxes and students from the Oceanview Centre Me to We gave a donation of $1,000. Donations and support also came from the Ecology Action Centre.