September 16, 2017 7:26 pm
Updated: September 16, 2017 8:38 pm

10,000 pounds of potatoes harvested by Edmonton students, volunteers for food bank

WATCH ABOVE: Volunteers at a north Edmonton community garden are busy harvesting potatoes this weekend. As Julia Wong reports, what they collect will go directly to the food bank.

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There were many helping hands at a community garden in north Edmonton on Saturday to volunteer for a good cause.

Dozens of students and various volunteers from inner-city agencies descended on Lady Flower Gardens to help pick and pack 10,000 pounds of potatoes for the Edmonton Food Bank.

Kelly Mills, community organizer of Lady Flower Gardens, said this is the sixth year for the initiative.

Lots of planning was needed to make Saturday’s operations run smoothly. Volunteers picked and filled buckets with potatoes; those buckets were then picked up by volunteers driving golf carts and trucks to be brought back to a weigh station.

Pallets were then filled with the root vegetable before being loaded onto a food bank truck.

READ MORE: Urban farming: not just growing food but communities

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“The garden is for everyone. I’ve noticed that living in the city, people experience a nature deficit,” Mills said.

“It affects their all-around health, physical, spiritual, mental. They not only need nutritious food but they need the stimulation of being on the land.”

Monika, who did not want her last name used, uses inner-city agencies like the Mustard Seed and the Bissell; she is a frequent volunteer at the garden.

“To give back to the community – like I said, I do use the agencies for various reasons,” she said.

“I rely on these different agencies that serve meals for a meal. Without them, it would be very difficult.”

READ MORE: Community garden helps Edmonton’s most vulnerable citizens connect

Monika adds it’s an enjoyable experience to be so involved with the harvest and give back to the agencies that help her.

“It’s very fulfilling, very spiritually fulfilling inside. It makes me feel good. It gives me a sense of accomplishment as well,” she said.

“Where it’s coming from – it gives me a greater appreciation of that, the food is being used to help others, to feed others, for the less fortunate.”

Dan Card, leadership teacher at M.E. LaZerte High School, said this is the second year students from the school have helped with the final potato harvest.

“The thing I see out of them is excitement. It’s a hard sell to get kids to come and harvest for five hours in the dirt. But we sold out this field trip in hours,” he said.

Card said the students gain an empathetic understanding of the people around them.

“Some of these kids haven’t been to a farm before. They get to see what that life is like, give back to the food bank, women’s shelters.”

Grade 12 student Nancy Tangon said she has volunteered at the food bank in the past and has seen the reaction of those who pick up food hampers.

“It’s very warming to the heart,” she said.

“I grew up around people who couldn’t really support themselves sometimes. I feel like it’s important for others to work together to help people and especially to give even what you don’t have for others who don’t have it either.”

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