When the Canon Ridge garden was started in May, it was initially to show children attending the After School Zone Program how to grow and care for plants. In the months since, it has grown into a major food source and rallying point for the local community.
“To be honest, when we first started it was a bit of an eye sore,” says Cathy Harnum-Flynn, the Canon Ridge Community Ministries Worker. “It was just this unused space in the back yard and we thought why not turn it into a vegetable garden?”
“It was initially going to be filled with sod but we got the program started up again,” says John Leblanc, a Canon Ridge volunteer. “We got the children to plant seeds in the early spring in the after school program. We had different kinds of seeds that we planted inside first and then we moved them outside.”
With just $120 as their budget, the team at Canon Ridge set to work planting tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, corn, beans, kale, and pumpkins. Even some of the flowers along the front of the house were planted because they were edible and could be included in salads. The garden soon became a point of interest for members of the community as they stopped to visit with the people working in the garden.
“A lot of people come and ask if they have to pay for the food and we just tell them to come and take what they want. Some of them get so shocked and excited!” says Cathy with a laugh. “We had a man come in the other day and looked around and then told us that he hadn’t seen fresh vegetables like these since he was a kid and that he can’t afford to buy them to have salad. So we loaded him up a bag full of fresh veggies for 2 days’ worth of salads and told him to come back again before the end of the season. He called the next day and said ‘you have no idea how good that salad was!’”
On September 15, the garden brought out 120 people from the Canon Ridge community for a corn boil and BBQ. While the large number of attendees meant some extra corn had to be bought, the corn picked fresh an hour before was a special treat. A bean salad was also served that was made from fresh beans from the garden.
“It’s nice to be able to share things and not just be strangers in your own little corner of the world,” says John. “My wife and I also get to meet people that we wouldn’t have met by just staying home. By being here and doing volunteer work it’s opened up a whole world for us as well.”
“It’s so amazing to see how this little garden has brought people together. And I have to thank community volunteers John, Chris Crevier, and Irene Chand Khan for the countless hours they dedicated to the garden,” says Cathy. “We can’t wait until next year; we already have some big plans in the works.”