Hard to believe but we are precisely at the mid-point of the Great Veggie Grow-off challenge. The gauntlet was thrown down on May 1 and the final tally will take place Thanksgiving Weekend. The late start and the extreme lack of rain have made for a very difficult first half of the growing season. Nonetheless, the harvest of many vegetables is upon us and the optimistic gardener believes that the second half of the gardening season will be much, much better. In the case of gardeners fortunate enough to have access to plentiful supplies of water during this year’s drought, the incredible amount of heat and sunshine has lead to some amazing results already!
All nine Lanark communities were challenged on May 1 at an event at our new Neighbourhood Tomato Friendship Oven in Almonte to grow and donate to their local food bank. Presently all four food banks (Carleton Place, Lanark, Perth and Smiths Falls) take donations of freshly grown produce. They have been asked to weigh and record the community of origin of locally grown donations of food from May 1st until the final weigh-in. Bragging rights will be given 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.
This Community Challenge, now in its fifth year, expanded a couple of years ago to include gardeners in communities across Lanark supporting all four of the food banks in the County. The first two years the challenge pitted the municipalities of Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and Beckwith, the towns supported by the Hunger Stop, and the results were amazing. Competition between Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills reached a fever-pitch and resulted in a major increase in people in these towns growing food and sharing it with others. Thus the decision in year three to take the challenge county-wide!
A record total of 10,094 pounds of healthy local produce was donated to the four food banks in 2016. The totals in 2017 were significantly lower – the excessive rainfall in 2017 meant that many gardens were a complete washout – I’m sure that the 10,000 pound record will be shattered this year!
At the final weigh-in last fall, Mississippi Mills won the trophy for the largest amount of fresh garden produce donated to its Food Bank as well as the trophy for most food per capita donated to its Food Bank. It was a neck-and-neck fight right to the last day with the lead see-sawing between Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place. In the final analysis though, it is our Food Bank families that came out on top.
The final wrap-up is again scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend at a location still to be announced. Please remember to drop off surplus garden produce at the Hunger Stop (aka Lanark County Food Bank). Bring your armfuls of produce to the Food Bank at 5 Allan Street in Carleton Place and make sure that it is weighed and credited to Mississippi Mills. Or you can do as our mayor does – he drops off his extra produce at a cooler in the foyer of the Almonte library. We are very grateful to the library for making this service available as well as to the volunteers who pick up this produce and drive it down to the Food Bank.
The Food Bank is open:
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Try to drop your produce off first thing in the morning if possible.