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Activist encourages Saultites to grow their own food, donate to local food banks during COVID-19

Big gardening events are up in the air for this summer, but Patricia Wynter says you can still grow your own food and contribute to community gardens
Patricia Wynter, Coordinator at Little Rapids Community Gardens and the Kids' Garden Club. Supplied photo

Many people are considering and starting to grow and plant their own food due to concerns over global food shortages. But Patricia Wynter, Coordinator at Little Rapids Community Gardens and the Kids’ Garden Club, has been spearheading the gardening movement locally long before it was popular.

“We homeschooled our children for a while and gardening was a huge part of their education,” says Wynter, a Huron Shores resident and mom of four children who has been supporting and educating community gardeners across the Algoma region for years. “People say that kids won’t eat their vegetables – well you should have seen the children at Thessalon Public School in Thessalon.” Wynter ran several garden programs at the school. “When I made a huge soup of all our crops, the kids were like in ‘Oliver Twist’ – ‘please sir I want some more.”

Yes, even the swiss chard!

Due to concern for the spread of COVID-19, events that were slated for her growing campaign “Goodness From The Ground Up” are postponed until further notice.

“We had an ‘Upcycling with a Smile’ session where kids take old pop bottles and create a bird feeder or bee house with it,” says Wynter. “We were also going to start ‘vertical gardening’ by having the children from the Kids’ Garden Club grow lettuce and strawberries from hanging recycled racks that I collected.” 

Wynter introduces a new project each year to help kids improve their yield from the gardens. “This year, we also wanted to plant potatoes using layers of straw and also to try ‘square gardening’,” she says. “It’s all about experimenting and trying new things.”

More events, such as “Our Country Fair”, an annual open house for the Gardens, are slated for August, but it’s still very much a “wait and see” situation.

Another program Wynter was to run at Central Algoma Secondary School, the home of several greenhouses, also had to be cancelled due to the recent pandemic. 

Whether you are growing a garden for your own family or participating as a volunteer in a community garden, Wynter encourages everyone to plant one row of vegetables to donate to the food bank.

“Have you ever seen the food there? It’s just dead. They need (and deserve) fresh produce, fresh vegetables,” she says. “Everyone who works in a garden should just bring some to the food bank.” In this sense, Wynter finds a way to make even private gardening a community practice. 

It is no matter for Wynter that we are still under restrictive measures in Ontario. She encourages every citizen of every age Wynter encourages every citizen of to “Get planting. Dig and Glow – oops!  I mean ‘Grow’…let’s grow our food. And support food banks at large.”