July 16th, 2024

Food bank promoting home horticulture program

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on February 26, 2022.

Herald File photo Eight-year-old Mckenzie Wollny participates in the seed paper craft with the help of Naomi Den Haan during a past year's national garden day event at the Interfaith Learning Garden.

The seed for a local initiative has been planted with the long term goal of harvesting edible results.
A free gardening course, Interfaith Food Bank’s Seed to Supper Garden Workshop Series at the Interfaith Learning Garden, located at Interfaith Food Bank 1103 – 3 rd Ave. North, will start Monday and run until March 28 with a second session slated for April 26 to May 24.
With the Interfaith Food Bank already having the gardening bug with their own garden built in 2013, the organization is now inviting fellow green thumbs to take part in the five-week session to learn low-cost ways to build healthy soil, plan one’s growing space, choose crops, care for a growing garden and ultimately harvesting the bounty.
Participation is free, though pre-registration is required. 
Each participant will receive a handbook and hands on training for starting a home garden. 
Throughout the gardening season, community members can participate in tours, workshops and other garden related activities.
“We work with a lady named Mandy Sandbach that runs Soulfully Soil,” said Danielle McIntyre, executive director at Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge. “She is a local garden expert, so she comes in and helps us to teach community members how to prepare and be ready for the garden season.”
The first session from Monday to March 28 will be run online.
“Then, because we are expecting the restrictions to lessen, we are going to run the program again but on Tuesday evenings from April 26 to May 24 and that one will be in person,” said McIntyre.
Sandbach brings vast gardening know-how to the sessions.
“Luckily for us, being a community organization, we have been very fortunate in having local community members come forward whenever we are working on any particular project or activity,” said McIntyre. “We built our learning garden back in 2013 and because we have the learning garden, we have been participating with the Lethbridge Garden Network. Mandy is represented there and that is where I met her. But she has been heavily engaged in the Kinsmen garden and helping with several community initiatives in getting community gardens going. She is heavily involved with the Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association. It’s what she’s into and has the expertise in and she has a heart for interface. She comes back every year to help us with the Seeds for Supper and we also use her for other workshops during the season, other members of the Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association or other community groups who are engaged in teaching people how to garden and encouraging gardening as a healthy lifestyle.”
The Interfaith Food Bank has their own garden on site that they built mostly so they would have enough fresh produce for their cooking classes, said McIntyre.
“But with all of the space here at our facility, we open them up for community members to learn more about anything that has to do with making sure you have enough food. So community members book our garden to offer these kinds of learning opportunities all through the season. We also have yoga in the garden and movies in the garden but this one runs early each year with the intent of getting people motivated and ready to start their gardens in the spring.”
McIntyre said there’s more to gardening than putting dirt in a pot and hoping something grows.
“So it’s what kind of dirt and will this grow here or does this need sun or can this grow with that?” she said. “There are a lot of things about gardening that are quite simple and then it’s a lot of things you can really dive deep into if you got the bug for it. But it’s not difficult and it is one of those universal skills we really want to encourage everybody to be engaged in at some level. We have adult programming, youth programming and courses like how to make your compost work. It is a wide array because we are here to cater to the community and we believe that everybody needs to know how they make sure they have enough food on the table.”
McIntyre said they plan for about 20 people, minimum, for the online classes and take about the same for the in-person sessions as well.
“Garden season is coming and our garden here at the food bank is all tended by volunteers. All of our programs are offered in partnership with community groups. If anyone is interested in being engaged, we have a great space where it can happen.”
To register to reserve a space, contact Bill at 403-320-8779.
Those wanting more information about the Interfaith Learning Garden can visit http://www.interfaithfoodbank.ca, follow them on social media or call 403-320-8779.
The Interfaith Food Bank can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lethbridgeinterfaith.

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