It’s Earth Day! No better time for Gore Mutual Insurance Company employees to get their hands dirty in support of Springbank Food Bank Gardens.
Rare Charitable Research Reserve (rare), an environmental organization in Cambridge, operates over 15,000 square feet of space for growing organic vegetables for local food banks at Springbank Food Bank Gardens.
On Friday, as part of Earth Day 2022, Invest in our Planet, a volunteer team of 30 Gore Mutual Insurance Company employees spent the day with rare staff to help get the gardens ready for the growing season.
“The intention is to support our local community, and to help create change in our own neighbourhood,” said Gaby Polanco-Sorto, head of purpose and sustainability, at Gore Mutual.
“This is here, right in own backyard, and employees are ready to get their hands dirty and work together to support this wonderful organization on Earth Day.”
With over 110 community garden plots, a dedicated space for an education and demonstration garden, and a food bank garden, rare’s Springbank Community Gardens is one of the largest in Waterloo Region.
“We grow pretty much any vegetable here,” Jarvis said. “And we’ve also added a fruit orchard,” Taryn Jarvis, coordinator at Springbank Food Bank Gardens.
Springbank Food Bank Gardens now has over 70 fruit trees which will add fresh fruit to the thousands of pounds of food donated to local food banks.
Celebrating its 20th year, the gardens have delivered thousands of kilograms of quality food to those most in need within the community.
In addition, Gore Mutual has made a $3,000 donation to rare in support of the work it does in environmental preservation, research, and community engagement.
Over the last two years of the pandemic, more individuals are relying on community supports.
By the end of 2021, food bank usage in Ontario rose 10 per cent during the first year reaching the highest levels since the recession.
“We are so happy to have these volunteers join us today. We want people to know that food banks accept donations of fresh fruits and vegetables. Over 1,000 families rely on the local food bank and with the increased cost of living, we want to help and continue to engage the community at the same time,” Jarvis said.
“For the volunteers today, it’s about team building and community engagement. For us it is also about bringing the community together, to raise awareness about food insecurity, and to grow food for those in need,” Jarvis said.
And for those who have an abundance of fresh food from their own gardens, Jarvis said that they can drop off produce at Springbank Food Bank Gardens.
“We dropped off over 300 lbs of produce to the food bank last year, from this initiative alone,” Jarvis said.
Since 2012, rare has worked to provide a space for those who enjoy being outdoors, are interested in growing their own fresh organic produce, and who want to engage in helping to create a sense of community.
There are many benefits of community gardening including better health and strong community building.
“This is such a healthy way of engaging people with the land. People can come to relax and unwind in nature,” said Jessica O’Connell, engagement and eco-management intern, from Springbank Community Gardens.
The Springbank Food Bank Gardens thrive with the help of community volunteers.
After the May long weekend, Springbank Community Gardens is open every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon and every Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“There’s always someone on site for anyone who wants to come out and volunteer,” Jarvis said.
“People really want to help. Every year, the gardens get bigger and better.”