The “Great Veggie Grow-off” cultivates stronger communities through friendly competition.
There is nothing like a little competition – the nature of “friendly” competition is you try your hardest and encourage your fellow counterparts as you go. When the competition grows from the efforts of individuals to communities banding together in collective acts of altruism, we all benefit.
The Great Veggie Grow-off is a perfect example. In this case, citizen gardeners in Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place, and Beckwith are all encouraged to grow healthy local food for donation to the Lanark County Food Bank. With each community poking the other to grow more healthy food, everyone wins. Our local food bank serves the communities engaged in the contest so gardeners in a sense, are sharing their bounty with their neighbours. Gardeners “plant another row,” community gardens are used and the food shared, the food bank has more local healthy food to offer, and the community as a whole is healthier.
This friendly competition started with a launch on May Day in Almonte’s Augusta Street Park and will wrap up on October 11th with a final official weigh-in in celebration of the UN’s World Food Day at the Carleton Place Farmer’s Market. Founding partners, Mills Community Support and the Neighbourhood Tomato, Community Gardens at St. Gregory’s Next Door and the Lanark County Food Bank all signed a partnership agreement at the launch agreeing to join forces and work together to try to increase the access to healthy food for all and challenged the municipalities of Beckwith, Carleton Place, and Mississippi Mills to see which town can grow the most local produce for the Lanark County Food Bank in 2014.
Gardeners are encouraged to bring their bags and armfuls of produce to the Food Bank at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place and make sure that it is weighed and credited to their community. The Food Bank is open Tuesday 9am to noon, Wednesday 7 to 9 in the evening, Thursday 9am to noon and Friday 9am to noon. It is best if produce is dropped off first thing in the morning if possible.
Mississippi Mills has a commanding lead due in no small part to the creation this spring of a 4000 square foot collaborative/community garden in Augusta Park in Almonte by a group of enthusiastic volunteers. However that could turn around quickly as more and more vegetables are ready to harvest and we know that Carleton Place has planted a lot of ‘heavy’ potatoes. Beckwith has now entered the fray – the competition is heating up!
The Food Bank has a display with jars showing the results – beans are added to the jars as donations come in. The Food Bank has also purchased a new cooler to store the produce as it comes in.
Article and photos provided by David Hinks, LCFB BoD member and Neighbourhood Tomato advocate.