POWER growers donate over 43,000 pounds of produce to food bank

Sept. 20 marked harvest day for the one-acre plot of land donated by Eagle Lake Turf Farms to grow fresh produce for the Calgary Food Bank.

According to Fred Ritter, coordinator for Projects Organized With Energetic Retirees (POWER), roughly 125 volunteers came out during the day to help harvest the garden.

“The volunteers are about 40 per cent Trans Alta retirees and there are a couple of other organizations here such as Imperial Oil … Fortis Alberta and we have a few folks from ENMAX Alumni Group,” said Ritter. “The garden was planted on about the 12 of May this year and so now we are reaping our good labour. We have been working at it all summer.”

Ritter estimated by Sept. 20, over 17,000 pounds of vegetables had been donated to the Calgary Food Bank since weekly harvests of the vegetables began late into the summer.

Also grown in the garden this year were beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, spaghetti squash and cucumbers, among other vegetables.

At the end of the day on Sept. 20, Ritter said a total of 43,465 pounds of food was harvested from the Get Growing Garden. This brought the total weight of food donated from the garden this year to 61,115 pounds of food grown for the food bank.

“It’s a huge impact for us to be able to provide fresh produce for our clients for their emergency food hampers,” said Lynn Tipper, who spoke on behalf of the Calgary Food Bank. “Some of this produce will go out right away and we also could share with other food banks across southern Alberta. There is a huge need these days.”

Tipper explained demand from the food bank is up approximately 45 per cent from this time last year for their clients. Currently, the food bank is giving out between 9,000-10,000 hampers a month.

According to Ritter, the garden last year was able to produce roughly 59,000 pounds of food.

“It’s a really good feeling of knowing the cause and food is going to folks who need it and who are depending on the food bank more and more every year, especially this year given the cost of food,” said Ritter. “Our work out here also helps provide an activity for retirees and elders to be able to get out, be social, get some fresh air and do some work for a good cause.”

Ritter added Eagle Lake Turf Farms had indicated intention to allow the garden to continue next year and maintain the active effort to aid the food bank.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times