Last year Kawartha Lakes Food Source (KLFS) created Open Gardens which are vegetable gardens planted and maintained by volunteers. The Open Gardens provide fresh, nutritious food to those in need, and are accessible and free to anyone to use. People are welcome to harvest at any time, and as often as needed.
Heather Kirby, general manager of KFLS notes that the only requirement is “people harvest respectfully and take only what is needed to ensure that the plants will continue to provide for others.”
KLFS receives calls from individuals needing food on a regular basis. Food banks and other food programs are available and very much appreciated, but they are not available all the time. The Open Garden is a way to provide access to food 24/7 during the growing season.
A wide range of vegetables were grown and harvested: Green and yellow beans, Spanish and green onions, beets, banana and sweet peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, carrots, radish, zucchini, and cucumbers.
Kirby added “this year our Open Gardens gave twice. People harvested what they needed and we still had extra produce. We had volunteers pick the mature produce and we distributed it to our member food banks. This season, KLFS harvested an additional 202 kilograms from the gardens for distribution.”
KLFS volunteers also used some of the extra produce to make pico de gallo salsa. The fresh jars of salsa were distributed to a member food bank for their clients to enjoy
Currently there are 44 raised beds in two locations. An additional 12 beds will go in later this fall and will be completed in the spring of 2019 bringing the total to 56 raised beds for the 2019 growing season.
The gardens are located behind the Alternative Education and Training Centre (230 Angeline Street South, Lindsay) and beside I.E. Weldon Secondary School (24 Weldon Rd, Lindsay).
With funding support from Ontario Association of Food Banks and Sysco through their Feeding Fresh Sysco Community Garden Program, KLFS was able to purchase the irrigation system, hoses, seeds and the wood frames for the expansion. KLFS is grateful for an anonymous donation of top soil to top up the existing beds and to fill the new ones.
Kawartha Lakes Food Source thanks the Alternative Education and Training Centre, I.E. Weldon Secondary School, main volunteers, James and Ray, for their dedication and passion to help others, and a watering team of volunteers who kept the gardens watered through the hot and dry spells in the summer.