At The Salvation Army’s community garden in Swift Current, Sask., planting seeds and investing a little bit of time is improving the quality of life for low-income families and individuals.
“There are many benefits to the community garden,” says Sandra Brong, The Salvation Army’s community and family services coordinator. “Participants eat healthier, save money on their grocery bills, make new friends and increase their self-sufficiency.”
In cooperation with the Southwest Food Security Committee, the community garden―10 garden boxes constructed by the Lions Club of Swift Current―is located at The Salvation Army’s food bank location. Originally, the fresh produce was intended to supplement food distributed at the food bank but there weren’t enough volunteers and staff to care for the gardens. It was then decided that individuals and/or families could adopt a garden and plant and care for it themselves.
“When people come to the food bank for assistance they’re asked if they’d like to ‘adopt’ a garden,” says Brong. “This works out well in that people plant what they prefer for produce. And gardeners are excited to talk about how their gardens are doing and their plans for canning or freezing the food.”
Participants include newcomers who have never gardened, grandparents who are teaching their grandchildren about gardening and single moms who are enjoying socialization and the outdoors. Community experts provide information on how to care for the plants, what to grow, which plants are likely to succeed, how to deal with insects and more.
“We have a commercial kitchen and our next step will be to teach canning or pickling,” says Brong. “But that means funding and volunteers. Right now we give participants handouts about the basics of canning and home pickling. Our clients are grateful for whatever support we can offer.”
Source: Salvation Army of Canada