Moosomin Food Share receives grant for Community Garden Tower

November 9, 2022, 10:40 am
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Samantha Campbell, manager of the       Moosomin Food Share said the group is        always appreciative for the community’s  support and donations.

After receiving a grant of $5,500 from Loblaw and Food Banks Canada, the Moosomin Food Share was able to fully fund their own Community Garden Tower.

“We applied through Food Banks Canada for the community garden tower here at the food bank,” said Samantha Campbell, manager of the Moosomin Food Share.

“All the vegetables and produce we grow from here will go straight to the food hampers, or let’s say the produce is ready four weeks before the hampers go out again, then we’ll sell it at the front and the money that we make from that, will go straight to the food bank or the food bank hampers.”

In a partnership between Loblaw Companies Limited and Food Banks Canada, the grant was created to help Canadian food banks distribute fresh food to those in need.

Through a series of grants totalling $200,000, Moosomin was one of the five local food banks who received a grant in support of a project that focused on growing its capacity to help more people access fresh food.

The four other local food banks to receive the grant were Community Connections Revelstoke Society in Revelstoke, B.C., Parkland Food Bank Society in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Community Care St. Catherines & Thorold, Ontario, and Queens County Food Bank in Nova Scotia.

Campbell said having an indoor garden at Moosomin’s food bank will make it easier to provide fresh produce for the monthly hampers that are given to about 30 families every month.

“We don’t have to go outwards to purchase fresh produce now,” said Campbell.

“Before it was really tricky with staffing because we only have a few volunteers who are needed in the store to run the till.

“By having this garden here, we’re not going outside to the town community garden and having to free up some time to wash the produce and get it into the hampers. This way we can get the produce from the back and grab it as we need it too.”

The Moosomin Food Share has installed a Community Garden Tower at their food bank.


Campbell explained how the garden tower works.

“It’s an indoor garden, we fill it full of water,” she said.

“You can buy pre made-up seeds that you can plant in with the dirt, or you can just buy the dirt and put your own seeds in that you buy from the grocery store.

“The lighting is all in one system, which helps grow them, and runs on a timer.”

So far, Moosomin Food Share has planted basil, parsley, thyme, mint, dill, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes and a variety of lettuces.

“Once those plants are done, we can grow something else. We’re hoping to eventually grow cucumbers, that is one of the many things on our list,” she said.

“We planted them last Saturday. We’re hoping within two weeks that we’ll start to see plants growing. Then hopefully within a month, we can start picking.”

Not many food banks have their own indoor community garden, Moosomin is one of the first in the area to have one, she said.
“When I was researching about the garden tower, a lot of food banks are in churches or side buildings so a lot of them have an outside garden, which is wonderful,” she said.

“But you can’t have a garden in the dead of winter in Canada, this way it helps us to have it in our own space all year-round.”

The garden tower is being used to grow herbs, tomatoes, lettuce and other fresh produce that will be included in monthly food hampers that go out to support around 30 local families.<br />


Proud to support locally and help families
The Moosomin Food Share relies on donations to help fund all of the food that is provided in the monthly hampers.

“All of our foods are purchased locally, from Borderland Co-op or Moosomin Family Foods, but having the garden here, this way it’s less that we have to spend,” Campbell said.

“For the food bank, all of the money that we are buying groceries with comes from our outside sponsors.

“If someone were to donate money to the food bank, that’s what we would be spending it on. We don’t spend it on the power, we don’t spend it on our wages, it’s strictly for the groceries of the food bank.

“We give donations outwards that’s coming from the thrift store, which comes through the till. It helps that we’re not spending a person’s hard earned money that they’re donating to the food bank on a project like this where grants play a huge role.”

Having her own indoor community garden at home is what inspired Campbell to apply for the grant and bring the project to Moosomin Food Share.

“I love my garden at home, I use it during all of winter,” said Campbell.

“For summer I grow tomatoes and everything else from my garden outside, so to grow the herbs inside, I can take that and use it in my spaghetti sauce without having to go buy it. It’s just a huge money saver in my eyes.”

Considering healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy or junk food, Campbell spoke about why it is important to provide families access to healthy and fresh foods.

Moosomin Food Share provides monthly hampers to around 30 local families throughout the year, and around 40 families during the Christmas season.<br />


“Because the food bank is for people who are in need, a lot of them might not be able to go buy that fresh produce from the store just because it is a lot more money being in a rural setting than it is going to the city,” she said.

“By at least purchasing the fresh produce through the food bank and giving it to those clients, we’re finding that they’re at least having some kind of healthy option that they might not get at home.

“A lot of these families that come here can’t make it out to the city to go buy that fresh produce, also because gas is expensive as well. At least having this option of us including fresh produce gives them something to have at home.”

Currently Moosomin Food Share provides monthly hampers to about 30 local families.

“We usually give out hampers to about 30 families a month, towards Christmas time we do tend to see a rise,” Campbell said.

“Especially with the cost of food going up the way it has, we have been giving out a lot more hampers. At Christmas time we usually see around 40 families.”

Fresh foods and meats can also be donated
Campbell said that Moosomin Food Share appreciates all donations and that canned goods are not the only foods they can accept.

“People can donate the non-perishable items which is awesome, but a lot of people aren’t aware that we do have the coolers and the refrigerators too,” she said.

“These two fridges that we have here, were actually purchased through the same grant a couple years ago.

“When people donate they don’t realize that they can donate bags of frozen vegetables, a bag of perogies, a bag of fries, your apples or oranges and we can keep them in the freezers and coolers, that way it lasts a lot longer.

“Every month aside from the non-perishable items, families do also get a box of freezer items which also includes meat.

“Another option to donate is meat which we go through so much because every month, every family gets two or three pieces of meat.”

Campbell said Moosomin Food Share is grateful to always have the community’s support.

“We’re very grateful for all of the support between the grants and people donating,” she said.

“We are seeing a lot less right now, obviously things are hard for everyone right now, but if they’re willing to donate and can donate, now is a perfect time.”