Mohawk College’s halls were empty, the parking lot sat vacant and the library was quiet, but the garden grew on.
When Hamilton went into lockdown in March, the future for Mohawk’s sustainable community garden looked very grim.
But one member of the team wasn’t going to let the plots go to waste.
“I wasn’t able to open the garden as a community garden space and have people come in and out as they typically would,” Ashley Packer, the coordinator for Sustainable Food Systems, said.
Usually, the majority of produce grown is donated to food banks in the area. And considering the job losses and troubles in the community due to the pandemic, those food banks are under more strain than ever.
“We decided to use everybody’s plots,” Packer said. “That way the space that is usually used to support our community can still be used in just a new way.”
Packer put in three hours of her own time for four mornings a week to tend to the garden over the growing season.
Considering the COVID-19 regulations in place at the time, no one could accompany her to lessen the workload.
“I planted it out with vegetables and fruits that would grow throughout the season with the intention of donating all of those to our local food banks,” Packer said. “It was a lot of work, but I just took it one day at a time. And it’s something I really enjoy anyways.”
Packer was able to give just more than 200 lbs of produce to local food banks this season after ongoing tending to the garden and weekly donations.
“We were really excited with that amount,” Packer said. “And I have way bigger plans and expectations for next year.”
It is still uncertain whether the community garden will be open to the public for the next growing season, but if it is not, Packer will ensure once again that the space does not go to waste.