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Garden at Fritz volunteers hope for bountiful season in support of West Island food banks

Click to play video: 'Garden at Fritz volunteers hope for bountiful season in support of West Island food banks' Garden at Fritz volunteers hope for bountiful season in support of West Island food banks
WATCH: A group of West Island volunteers are doing their part to give back to the community. Summertime is when the Baie-D'Urfé gardeners and the fruits of their labour are at the peak of the season. Olivia O'Malley caught up with the group as they hope for another bountiful year – Jul 31, 2021

Tucked away in Baie-D’Urfé‘s Fritz Park, volunteers harvested the Garden at Fritz’s first round of produce for the week on Monday.

“We picked approximately 100 pounds of courgettes, 30-35 pounds of cucumbers. We picked purslane and about 10 pounds of beans,” said volunteer Richard Gregson.

From July to early October, the community garden is picked two to three times a week. Every single organic, pesticide-free vegetable grown is donated to a West Island food bank.

“Everybody’s responsible for their neighbours and it’s something we can do,” said Gregson.

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The volunteer-based garden was started in 2014. It was originally a way to involve youth, but over time it’s expanded.

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“It’s really sort of evolved into just a general population helping to grow vegetables and donate them to food banks,” said volunteer Robert Brown.

On Monday it was Pierrefonds On Rock Community Service’s turn to receive the harvest. President Kim Reid calls the donations from community gardens invaluable.

“Our clientele doesn’t always get fresh fruits and vegetables straight out of the garden,” said Reid, adding it’s typically days-old fruit and vegetables from big box grocery stores that are donated.

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This season, volunteers decided to grow vegetables not typically available at food banks like peppers and eggplants rather than more common vegetables like carrots, explained Brown.

It’s still early in the harvest, but as more vegetables turn ripe, they expect each yield to be even greater than the last.

Gregson said,” we totaled out at about 4,000 pounds weight of vegetables and estimated the market value at something of an excess of $8,000,” last year.

They would like to expand the garden further in the future but are limited by what their 15 volunteers are able to do. Gregson said no matter your experience in the garden, they are always looking for more people.

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They want to be able to support as many local families in need with fresh produce grown in their own neighbourhood.

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