Food banks are bare, people are hungry, and there are solutions to be explored. Steve Gullage has found a great one.

It’s called Grow4Torbay, and it’s the kind of initiative that could be easily adopted by communities across the province.

Essentially, he’s asking the fine people of Torbay to do 1 of 3 things:

  • Let Grow4Torbay use a little bit of your property (or as much of your land as you’d like) to grow fruits & veggies this summer, which they can donate to the Northeast Avalon Food bank.
  • If you are a farmer or home gardener, consider donating some of your yield to Grow4Torbay. They will even come to pick it up and donate it for you.
  • Volunteer with Grow4Torbay, to help them maintain these plots.

The facts on hunger in our country and in our province are grim. Statistics Canada began monitoring household food insecurity in 2005. The most recent national measure revealed that 1 in 8 households were food insecure, amounting to over 4 million Canadians. That amounts to 1.15 million children living in homes that struggle to put food on the table.

Here in Newfoundland & Labrador, Food Banks in Canada’s Hunger Count 2015 reported that over 25,000 individuals in the province used a food bank— with 40% of this population being children. Local food-focussed organizations report that as many as 1 in 20 of us use a food bank.

Because of Gullage’s vision, Grow4Torbay has already gifted goods to the local food bank. For example, the nearby Organic Farm recently handed along 5 excess bags of spinach to the Northeast Avalon Food Bank, which Gullage says were all gone within 24 hours. What a treat for people to see fresh, local spinach in their food bank.

Food banks across the province are reporting they’re struggling as much or more than ever this year, to keep food on their shelves. Gullage’s great idea is a great aid towards remedying this, and this initiative of Grow4Torbay could easily be adopted by communities throughout the province, and be supported by municipalities in Newfoundland & Labrador.

The idea echoes a similar movement happening around North America. “Agrihoods” are popping up by demand in neighbourhoods as a way to fulfill demand from residents for access to fresh, local food; many of them are also helping to get more and better foods into frequently barren food banks.

They take up no more space than would a Walmart or strip mall. As an example, there is a 2-acre farm producing 300 types of vegetables in the northend of Detroit. Detroit has always struggled with community-wide hunger, but over the last 5 years, this agrihood in its North end has sent 50,000 pounds to produce to food banks and churches.

“Every year I have a small surplus from my modest-sized garden,” Gullage said of his idea to start Grow4Torbay, “and I wondered how many others around Torbay and the surrounding area also growing more than they eat? If we all contributed just a fraction of our harvest to the Food Bank (and to the elderly and anyone else in need), we may be able to make a real difference to the food security within our community, for those most in need.”