Gardeners ­growing ­veggies for ­Fernwoodians

›› Holly Grewall

Bernadette Letchford has lived in the ­Fernwood community for nearly 12 years, and has been gardening at the Fernwood Community Allotment Gardens for 10 of them. As a volunteer coordinator at the garden, she, along with a team of ­others, helped to spearhead an initiative to combat food insecurity in the Fernwood ­neighbourhood as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic this summer.

The 28 plot community garden is ­operated by the Fernwood Community Association, and at the start of this year’s season there were two empty garden plots available. In light of the pandemic, the ­gardeners collectively decided that instead of opening these up to new gardeners this year, the extra plots should be used to grow food for community members in need.

A number of gardeners came together to make this project a possibility, ­donating their seed potatoes, seedling starts, and seeds, as well as their time. A full plot of potatoes and a second plot of vegetables were planted and have been tended to by gardeners who have helped to dig, plant, water, and weed throughout the spring and summer.

In past years, many of the ­gardeners have donated their extra produce to ­organizations like Our Place Society on Pandora ­Avenue. This year, however, the gardeners felt that there may be many ­people within the Fernwood ­neighbourhood who could benefit from the fruits of their labour, so the donations have been kept within the local community. The food grown on the extra plots, along with extra produce ­contributed by gardeners, is being donated to the ­Fernwood ­Community Centre to distribute to those in the ­neighbourhood who need it.

The group has harvested fresh vegetables for about 5 weeks in a row and have just delivered their biggest load to the ­Community Centre yet, with no signs of stopping until well into the fall.

“Tomatoes will be coming up soon” Bernadette told us, and they’ll be accompanied by countless other vegetables, including beets, carrots, peas, potatoes, and lettuce, which will all be donated to the Community Centre for distribution.

Photo caption: Annie Kitchen and Bernadette Letchford in the garden with the weekly donation of freshly harvested vegetables. Thank you to the Fernwood Community Association, who manages Fernwood’s allotment gardens, for making this donation program possible. Photo: Aly Sibley