About five years ago, Father Will Alakas was joining the Anglican Church of St. Columba in St. Catharines when his congregation asked what they could do outside the church walls.

“There has been a lot of excitement about exploring different ways of being a Christian community and what that means in terms of public relations. How can we go beyond the walls of the church to help our community in the larger context? ”Said Alakas.

Alakas said a number of community members with skill and talent and knowledge of how to grow and grow vegetables have come forward.

The idea arose to create a small vegetable garden behind the church.

Tammy Houtby, whose husband Mark runs Mark Houtby Farms, said the original plan was to build a small garden behind the church himself.

“But Mark couldn’t get all of the equipment there,” she said. “He couldn’t drive the tractors down the street. Instead he offered them a morning here. “

“Everything was fine,” said Alakas.

“Our plan was that all of the vegetables we grow and all that could be harvested will be donated to Community Care to help those who are not safe in our community,” said Alakas.

“This project became very holistic for St Columba’s Church as everyone, whether they come out and actually volunteer for the vegetables, or those who just stay in the pews, have made this angelic morning a success has been. ”

Last year’s harvest brought in 7,000 pounds of fresh vegetables.

“All in compliance with all COVID security protocols,” added Alakas. “We are still watching a lot of these logs.”

That year, the Engelgarten team was awarded the Peavy Community Endowment, which grants them $ 1,300 for new garden tools such as hoes, rakes, a seed planter, and carts.

Linda Landry and her husband John Ellison are St. Columba parishioners and are actively involved in gardening.

“The lettuce can now be picked,” said Landry, “but we have planted corn, winter and summer squash, green and yellow beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, beets, red and green peppers,” and melons . “

“We had to do something,” she said. “My husband has probably been gardening for three years now. My back won’t let me go, but I can do other things like apply for scholarships. It’s just so rewarding to see the van full. Now there is fresh food instead of just canned food. “

“Our goal has always been to bring healthy nutrition to people,” said Betty-Lou Souter, CEO of Community Care, St. Catharines and Thorold. “So this garden matters to us. As soon as they start harvesting, it’s uninterrupted and we are as grateful as our customers. ”

“It is out of love for God,” said Alakas, “and the desire to encourage others to become more aware of the need in our area and also to do what we can with the gifts and talents we have.”



STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Supplying those in need with fresh food is an important step in ensuring food security. Reporter Abby Green spoke to a group about her efforts to do just that.

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