Digging It-Day of Caring with Toyota

“It was a great way to spend a day and make a difference”-Day of Caring Participant

 

It wasn’t a normal work day for any of us. A group of Toyota employees and some staff from United Way Waterloo Region Communities traded in their usual employment tools for pitchforks, shovels and gloves at the Rare Charitable Reserve community gardens.  For more than 7 hours we worked our way from fruit trees to potato planting to rows of beans, squash and zucchini.

United Way Waterloo Region Communities works alongside both the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank, and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region to address the issue of food insecurity.

The Springbank Food Bank Gardens at Rare offer an opportunity for people to “get their hands dirty” and really help out. The gardens cover more than 15 thousand square feet just off Blair Road.  For the last couple of years they have produced more than 6 thousand pounds of fresh food.  Healthy and nutritious meals can be a challenge for people struggling with food insecurity.

Our group on this particular day was charged with a big job.

Last year more than 60 fruit trees were planted on the property, thanks to a generous donation from a local grower.  This time of year, it’s necessary to remove the straw around the base of each tree, and then get down to the hard work of digging out the weeds with a pitchfork.  After that we loaded up wheelbarrows full of compost (created from a huge pile of leaves donated by a nearby resident last fall) and spread that around the base.  Fresh bales of straw were brought in so we could cover that nutrient rich compost, and give these trees a great start on their summer. 

The trees won’t be producing any fruit this year.  Supervisors at the garden say they will be far better off, and more robust if they are given another year to settle in before becoming productive.  But in 2019 these trees will be providing fresh fruit to kids and families who might not otherwise be able to afford such important parts of a healthy diet.

After a break for lunch we headed off to another part of the garden to plant what some call one of the world’s most versatile foods–the potato!   

Thankfully someone else had already done most of the weeding (most of us were done with weeds for the day!).  After a little bit of raking, and the creation of a couple of trenches we simply dropped in the potatoes, covered them up, and applied some water.  Nature will take of the rest.

The rest of the afternoon was filled by creating more beds and planting them with a variety of other vegetables.

All of us on the day have had some experience gardening but everyone agreed it was a different feeling to know the work you had invested was going to pay off for some people who really need the help.

Thanks to the great team at Rare, and our partners at Toyota we know plates, and bellies will be full of nutritious food later this year.

If you’re interested in bringing a team in for a volunteer opportunity we can help.  We’re currently re-invigorating our Days of Caring initiative, and we’ll have more information on that in the next few weeks.