Common Roots Harvest benefits Parker Street Food Bank

Friday, October 11, 2013 - 12:27pm

By John Gillis

With her most recent delivery, farmer Sara Burgess has now carted 1,600 pounds of fresh vegetables from Common Roots Urban Farm outside the QEII emergency department to Halifax’s Parker Street Food Bank.

“It’s great to be able to grow food and give it to people who need it,” said Burgess, who’s in her first year as the farmer on site at Common Roots. “I’m lucky to be in that position.”

The Kynock Parker Street Food Bank Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project provides a twist on the usual CSA model. In a usual CSA, people pay in advance to cover the anticipated costs of a farm operation and the farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season.

In this case, those who buy shares are supporting the farmer and Common Roots, while the weekly harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas and greens goes to the food bank.

Common Roots project co-ordinator Jayme Melrose said the market garden section of the farm, where this produce is grown, provides a great opportunity for people to work together growing food. It’s farmed by recreation therapy groups from the hospital and youth employability groups organized by community partners, as well as members of the community, under the direction of the farmer.

“We’ve had good community support for many of the small material needs that we have (at Common Roots), but the salary funding is the piece that’s most difficult to fund, but the most valuable,” said Melrose. “It’s undeniably our most valuable asset-the people and the farmer. You can’t have food without a farmer.”
Burgess, who was brand new to farming last season through an apprenticeship program of the Atlantic Canada Regional Organic Network (ACORN), has found her passion on this urban farm.

“This was pretty perfect. I wanted to farm and I wanted to work with community.”

She hopes to continue to farm this land in the centre of Halifax and ensure that the produce grown for Parker Street clients is as useful as possible.
“They’re used to just getting cast offs. I’d like to be able to give them what they need and what they want.”

Shares can be purchased by contact Kynock Parker Street Food Bank Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).