Caretakers of Newton’s PLOT community garden have begun delivering fruit and vegetables to those in need.
The PLOT Care Baskets are loaded with mostly store-bought carrots, bananas, onions, broccoli and other produce, along with some veggies grown at the garden.
“We’re growing food in the garden, and people are coming by to pick that food, those who need it,” said Rella Tees, an organizer of the project. “The harvest is not enough for the baskets we’re doing, which are being delivered to people who might not be able to visit the PLOT.”
The produce is bought with some grant money and donations.
Requests for baskets began coming in soon after notice of the initiative was posted on the PLOT Facebook page on April 17.
“The people we’re delivering to are really vulnerable and don’t have the means of getting out of the house, or maybe don’t live close to the garden and don’t have a car,” Tees added.
“One man, he opened the door and almost cried, he was so emotional. These are people in social housing, right, and what they’re going through now is hard, and life hasn’t been easy for them even before (the COVID-19 pandemic). This (project) has really opened my eyes about the community I’m living in and thought I know. People who live down the street, this is social housing, and they are in need of good food like this.”
Tees said the idea for the care baskets came from PLOT group member Aman Chandi, with help from Jasleen Virk, Katheren Szabo and others.
Local retailer All Of Oils got involved by donating dozens of bottles of olive oil for the baskets, Tees said, and Studio 73 offered some special fridge magnets, each with the message that “We’re All in This Together.” Some face masks have also been included in the baskets.
Those who need a produce box can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 604-753-9382. Requests should include name, phone number, whether the basket is for an individual or household, and whether pick-up from the PLOT is possible (from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays). If the basket is to be delivered, include an address. More details are posted to theplot.ca/care-baskets.
On March 21, to celebrate the spring equinox and arrival of another season of growing, some PLOT members came together with physical distancing in mind. The group’s annual ritual, held at the Newton Medicine Wheel on the site, was held in an “adapted form” amid ongoing COVID-19 virus concerns.
The community garden is located on two acres of city-owned land to the south of Newton Arena, on 71st Avenue at 137A Street. The garden beds radiate from the centre of a medicine wheel, a path that embodies the circle of life in Aboriginal cultures.
Organic food is grown and shared at the PLOT, which has been a site for work parties, picnics and other celebrations since it first sprang to life four years ago. Community members are invited to “contribute, harvest, share and enjoy.”
Looking ahead, PLOT is planning to host a virtual MishMash Bash on May 23 at 3 p.m.with “lots of fabulous music and community building,” via the Zoom conference app, with donations sought for the Care Baskets project. The group’s Facebook page promises performances by local artists, including Kin Balam, Leonard Pallerstein and Kimit/Paperwave.