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Guelph man creates funky garden barrels for shelters to grow their own food

Richard Marshall is re-purposing 10 food grade plastic drums to grow fresh herbs for local organizations
These food grade plastic barrels can grow various kinds of herbs and plants.

Sometimes, giving back to the community only requires some creativity and some helping hands. 

In an effort to give back to his community, a Guelph small businesses owner is focusing on connecting local food banks and shelters to nature so they can grow their own food.

Richard Marshall, owner of Kitsune Cleaning, a residential and commercial cleaning company that launched in Guelph two years ago, is in the process of building 10 garden barrels to donate to local organizations in need. 

“Hopefully we can teach the appreciation of gardening, fresh herbs and inspire some people to garden themselves and help reduce their overall costs for housing the project,” said Marshall. 

“We care about the community. We’re actively trying to make a difference directly in Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo.”

Marshall said it was important for him to think about creating a company culture of giving back to his community when he launched his business two years ago. 

“It started as a side hustle for me and it blew up big time,” said Marshall. He said his business entirely depends on word of mouth and with community support has turned into a full-fledged small business. As a thank you to the community, he wanted to give back. 

Recently, a client of his offered him food grade plastic drums which could be re-purposed for various uses.

Marshall, an avid gardener since he was four, was inspired by plant boards on Pinterest and decided to make vertical garden beds that allow access to fresh grown food in limited space. 

“Everything you would normally have in a 10 by 10 spot, you would have in a two by two spot,” said Marshall. 

“The cuts are there to bend the plastic outwards so then that way, the plant can have a lot of space for the soil. The soil will get warmed up by the sun and then it can grow and expand,” explained Marshall. “The middle thing is for watering. You put your water in through there and it will water from the core outwards so that will help promote growth as well for the plants.”

Once the plants have grown a few inches, the barrel will essentially be hidden.

“You would just see this two foot high sprout of beautiful green foliage that you can eat from and you know help feed the community,” said Marshall specifying herbs and greens which could be grown such as parsley, basil, oregano and strawberries.

Marshall said He plans to plant a different type of herb in every second opening in the barrel. 

“There will be like two basil, two parsley, and that way they will have a bountiful crop and when they are giving food for the needy or if they cook locally in their kitchen, they’ll have a lot of products for themselves to use. 

He said he’s now looking for donations for soil, and volunteers to help make the drums ready to be delivered by the end of May so people can begin gardening for the season. He also plans on canvassing some local stores to see if they’re willing to donate seeds. 

“Being able to grow your own food has more value in my opinion. You have the opportunity to be in touch with mother earth and also enjoy the benefits of growing something and cultivating it, watching it grow and being able to feed it to your family and loved ones,” said Marshall. 

“It's a sense of accomplishment one can easily get without going far from home.”