The Food Bank Farm was created in response to an obvious need in the community of Sault Ste. Marie for fresh produce to supplement the food currently provided to individuals and families in need via the food bank system that exists within the city.
We operate the farm on a not-for-profit basis, and are dedicated to producing the maximum volume of a variety of high quality, nutritious produce items to those in the community who lack the financial resources to obtain food through traditional retail outlets.
The farm site is located within the city limits on Maki road, and use of the land, buildings and equipment have been donated by the property owners, Colin and Sharon Templeton. Operation of the farm is led by the operations manager, Isabelle Trottier-Saucier, and Colin Templeton with assistance of volunteers from the community.
Distribution of food produced by the farm is coordinated by Rom Sim, and the dedicated staff of the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre located at 172 James St. in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. (http://www.soupkitchencommunitycentre.org/)
The successful operation of the farm is entirely supported by financial donations from within the community. We thank our donors for their ongoing support and generosity, see how you can help
Charitable donations for the operation of the farm are held in trust, and administered by the Soup Kitchen consistent with their established financial and management procedures.
Fundraising and promotional activities, including the establishment and maintenance of this website has be generously donated by Jeronamo Solutions located at 83 Huron Street. 705 910 0436 www.jeronamo.ca
The objective of the Food Bank Farm is to produce high quality vegetables for individuals and families in need. By growing and delivering fresh vegetables we hope to reduce the impact of poverty on food security, health and welfare of individuals and families. We grow, harvest, wash and package the food items, then deliver them to our partner, the Soup Kitchen Community Centre.
The produce is then used in one of three ways:
- Distributed directly to families and individuals in our community
- Used by the Soup Kitchen to provide nutritious free meals
- Used in the Community Kitchen where individuals learn to cook an economical, healthy meal.
One of our goals is to help our community grow and become self-reliant by:
- Producing high quality food locally
- Supporting low income families within the community, improving community health and well-being
- Teaching transferrable skills to enhance employment options such as: farming, marketing, food handling, preparation and distribution.
- Introducing youth and students about the role of local agriculture, sustainability and self sufficiency
- Engaging the community to share their energy and skills to make a difference
How we are doing
The 2017 growing season
Our first season was very busy. A cold, wet spring meant a slow start to the year. By mid summer squash, turnip, carrots, and beans were doing well. In the late fall we had unexpectedly warm weather that extended our season two weeks beyond what we would consider normal. At the height of the season we were delivering fresh produce twice a week to the Soup Kitchen. Cooking classes were being held using our vegetables. When we add it all up, we estimate that we delivered approximately 3,600 kg (8,000 lbs) of food. Not bad for a year with very poor weather.
The 2018 growing season
The installation of a greenhouse with a pellet stove helped us get an early start on the 2018 growing season. By the end of May the first crops (i.e., beets, swiss chard, broccoli) had been planted in the field. Donations at the Hello Spring Event at New North Greenhouses enabled us to purchased plants for our new pollinator gardens. Good growing conditions in the summer and early fall meant that we were delivery up to five days a week. A bountiful cucumber harvest enabled the Soup Kitchen to preserve hundreds of jars of pickles. In total 6,800 kg (15,000 lbs) of food was donated to the Soup Kitchen.
This year was the start of the Grow-a-row initiative, a coordinated community engagement activity where back-yard gardeners grow produce for donation to local food banks.
2018 was also a year of infrastructure development. In addition to the installation of two greenhouses, the barn was renovated, the irrigation system completed and farm implements were purchased through the United Way’s Community Endowment Fund. The Farm was also the recipient of two grants.
- The TSC Community Agriculture Grant will aid in the purchasing of operational items such as seeds, pots, and soil.
- The Epicure Foundation Grant Program will help to effectively distribute and preserve food through the development of a market-style outdoor food distribution space that will allow us to operate in inclement weather. We will also be purchasing a mobile refrigeration unit and commercial vacuum packer.
What a wonderful year at the Food Bank Farm. We welcomed several regular volunteers including participants in the United Way Good to Grow program. Volunteers donated approximately 1,750 hours of their time to planting, harvesting, and weeding. Thank you to everyone who came out this year and we will see you next year.
The cool, wet spring and summer impacted some of our crops. In total, 11,700 lbs of produce was donated. The majority of the food was given to the Soup Kitchen and its clients with additional produce provided to Harvest Algoma for distribution. Lettuce, zucchini, carrots, and radishes were our top producers.
With the help of the Epicure Foundation grant the Food Bank Farm and the Soup Kitchen were able to make several key purchases to reduce waste. We purchased a mobile refrigerated trailer to transport vegetables, vacuum packers to preserve food, and an awning for the Soup Kitchen market garden. The funds also supported the establishment of a second farm in Huntsville. Funds from the TSC Community Agriculture Grant program were used for farm operations including the purchase of seeds, soil, and insect netting. With the donation of a variety of seeds from Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm we created a test garden to try some new vegetable varieties. We could not operate without the help of these organizations.
What we grow
We grow, harvest, wash and package vegetables for delivery to the Soup Kitchen Community Centre, who co-ordinates delivery through their food bank located at 172 James Street, Sault Ste Marie.
Our season begins in mid March when the first of the vegetables are started in our greenhouse. By May, weather permitting, seedlings are planted in the field. Harvesting and delivery to the Soup Kitchen Community Centre starts in June and continues until October or the first heavy frost.
Popular crops (i.e., radishes, beets, turnips) are planted repeatedly throughout the season to maximize the amount of food and to ensure that a variety of food is available throughout the growing season.
Vegetables grown include:
- Swiss chard
The Food Bank Farm is a project entirely run by volunteers. Our volunteers come with a diverse background and varied interests. They are a mix of experienced gardeners and beginners. We strive to instill core values of hard work, self-sufficiency, enthusiasm and motivation in a cooperative environment in an effort to promote community development. On any given day our volunteers participate in seeding, weeding, planting, harvesting, food handling, preparation and delivery.
No matter young or old – our volunteers range in age from 4 to 90 – we have a variety of tasks throughout the year suited to different skill and physical fitness levels.
Most of us volunteering at the Farm are involved with the growing and harvesting of produce that is delivered to the Soup Kitchen. Our satisfaction comes from filling the cooler, checking off the list of tasks to be completed, knowing that what is grown will go to individuals and families in need, and getting a little dirt under our nails. We help out for a variety of reasons often not knowing the impact our small role plays in the lives of people in our community.
Every once in a while we hear about how our time at the Farm has affected a person or family at the Soup Kitchen. Stories from our clients brighten our days, bring a smile to our faces, maybe a few joyful tears, and a renewed promise to grow and donate as much as we can.
Learn a little bit about who we are:
Where are we
The Farm is located at 530 Maki Road in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
From Second Line West, turn right on Allen Side Road. At the first intersection turn left on Third Line West. The first road on your right is Maki Road. Proceed north on Maki Road for approximately 1 km. The Farm is on the right.