Join the Neighbourhood Tomatoheads, Lanark municipal and community leaders at the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre at 134 Main St. E., in Almonte on May 1 at 3 p.m. to kick off the fourth annual Great Veggie Grow-off Challenge.
There will be snacks and music around the centre’s newly raised garden beds.
The Great Veggie Grow-off Challenge is now in its fourth year. Last year was an exciting one as the grow-off expanded to include all nine communities and all four food banks in Lanark County. Results were positive with over five tons of food, that’s a whopping 10,104 pounds! The increase in participation is a great indicator of the strength in community through members growing and sharing food with one another.
Also exciting was the inclusion of youth in the process. Almonte District High School youth started a modest community garden which was cared for by the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre during the summer months. Produce from this garden was used in meals both at the high school and youth centre throughout the season. Many large bags of fresh, delicious veggies were donated to the grow-off by these gardeners. Many youth declared a new-found love for all vegetables, especially those they helped to grow and harvest.
“More people are gardening every year in the community and at home, as well as sharing the produce with people in need. The food banks are better supported with the healthy value of fresh local food donations,” said master gardener David Hinks. “The Lanark County Great Veggie Grow-off is a fun challenge between communities. The only prize being a good reason to talk with pride about your community’s generosity and green thumb. More people are talking about the importance of food security for all; feeling empowered to have a measure of control over their own food, while building community and capacity for community gardens. It’s a great community initiative.”
Presently all four food banks (Carleton Place, Lanark, Perth and Smiths Falls) take donations of freshly grown produce. The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens has asked them all to weigh and record the community of origin of locally grown donations of food from May 1 until the final weigh-in at Thanksgiving. We will give bragging rights to the community that donates the greatest amount of locally grown food as well as to the community with the highest amount of freshly grown food donated per person with the big winner always being our community’s food banks.