A new cooperative project is taking shape in Kawartha Lakes aimed at providing residents with access to fresh and healthy fruit. Under the direction of the Kawartha Lakes Food Coalition Food Security Working Group, apple and pear trees will be planted at Orchard Park in Lindsay. An additional 70 apple trees are being planted at affordable housing sites across Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton.
“This fruit will feed seniors, children and adults in Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton who live in poverty. At the same time, it creates habitat and food for wildlife while reducing pollution and the effects of carbon emissions,” commented Liza Hancock, anti-poverty and human rights activist who spearheaded the project.
Hancock reached out to the City’s Parks, Recreation and Culture division for permission to plant the orchard and to help with caretaking.
The Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing Corp offered to provide additional land for planting trees. The Kawartha Lakes Food Source team including volunteers from the Plant a Row, Grow a Row will water the trees, harvest and distribute the fruit to their food banks and school programs. Residents of the affordable housing buildings will have direct access to harvest the fruit.
Funding has been provided from the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit through the Healthy Communities Fund grant, under the direction of Aisha Malik, Chair, Kawartha Lakes Food Coalition Food Security Working Group.
The successful grant application to the TD Environment Fund was submitted by Marina Hodson of the Kawartha North Family Health Team. Fleming College Urban Forestry Department will provide support with planting and pruning of the fruit trees at Orchard Park in Lindsay and provide training to community members on how to maintain fruit trees at other locations throughout the municipality.
Who accesses food banks?
The local data shows that 13.5 per cent of households in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District are food insecure, meaning that they do not have enough food or worry that there is not enough to eat. This is higher than the Ontario rate of 11 per cent.
The reality is that 70 per cent of people living in poverty get most of their income from employment. Their jobs usually pay minimum wage and often the work is not full time. The other 30 per cent receive government assistance through Ontario Works, ODSP, Canada pension plan, old age security, or GIS.
In our community it costs $882 for a family of four to eat healthy for a month. People living on a fixed income simply do not have enough money to meet their basic needs. People who live in poverty pay for their rent first and often by the time they pay for rent and other utilities there simply is not enough money left for food.