By Gord Bowes, News staff
Crop after crop of fresh produce has been donated to the Neighbour to Neighbour Centre food bank this year thanks to the hard work of green-thumbed volunteers working community gardens at Macassa Lodge.
The 71 beds on the grounds of the east Mountain seniors facility are the result of a partnership between the non-profit group Hamilton Victory Gardens and the City of Hamilton.
“What a great army of volunteers,” said Coun. Tom Jackson (Ward 6, east Mountain) during a ceremony Monday to officially open the second phase of the project which began last year.
“They’re the reason this is here.”
Jackson has donated $5,000 each of the past two years from his special ward funding to offset the cost of cement blocks and triple mix soil, which are supplied at a discount by Day and Campbell and Sons, and Millgrove Garden Supplies.
Seeds and transplants are donated by several growers and individuals, and William Dam Seeds.
So far this year, said Judy Wilcox of Hamilton Victory Gardens, the Macassa site has harvested more than 3,000 of vegetables for Neighbour to Neighbour.
The non-profit also has beds set up at the Cancord site at 325 Mary St. and at the Good Shepherd Centre at 135 Mary St. In total, nearly 16,000 pounds of produce, about 78 per cent of this year’s 20,000-pound goal, has been grown.
More sites are being considered for next year, said Wilcox, and more volunteers are always needed. See hamiltonvictorygardens.org for more information.
Cathy Fisher, Macassa’s supervisor of resident services, said the lodge is open to the idea of adding more beds on the facility’s grounds.
The residents, particularly the 12 members of Macassa’s gardening club, enjoy having the gardens on the property and are out there regularly, she said.
“I enjoy it, working with my hands,” said resident David Fletcher.
Clare Wagner, manager of community food at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre, said a delivery of vegetables every week is appreciated.
“It’s fantastic to supplement with fresh produce grown literally down the street,” she said. “It’s an invaluable addition to our food bank.”