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Ignatius gardens for Syrian Refugees

Spring Field Day kicks off gardening season.

Gardeners fanned out, hoes and shovels in hand, across the Ignatius Jesuit Centre community garden plots over the weekend. By the time the many gardens are ready to harvest, a portion of the produce from many of them will go into hampers for Syrian refugee families.

Satish Deshpande, one among the many dozens of gardeners who are part of the Ignatius Farm gardening program, announced the plan Saturday during the annual Spring Field Day at the centre. Ignatius is located on the north edge of Guelph. Call 519-824-1250, ext. 245 to find out about plot availability.

Deshpande said community gardeners are working together to provide fresh harvest to recently settled Syrian families.

Ignatius Farm director Heather Lekx will oversee the donation of surplus production, and Bob Moore, who coordinates food donations for Lakeside Hope House will facilitate the distribution of the produce, Deshpande explained.

He said that Jim Estill, the CEO of Danby who is personally sponsoring the settlement of 50 Syrian families, knew that Deshpande was part of the community garden program and asked him about the possibility of a vegetable share.

“I approached Heather Lekx and found a willing community of gardeners,” Deshpande said in an email. “(It) was initiated by Jim Estill but embraced by all the players involved, gardeners, Ignatius and Hope House.”

Saturday’s event included live entertainment by singer Sam Turton, good eats, a seed and seedling sale, and garden plot allocation and orientation. Ignatius is a bastion of organic growing and all gardeners are required to observe organic agricultural practices.    

Community gardens at the centre are planted each in two or three parcels of land, which rotate each year. The land is cultivated and ready to go by the time the gardeners arrive. Organic compost and mulch are sold to gardeners. Plots are range in size 100 to 2,000 square feet.

The coming week is forecast to be a good one for gardens. Hot temperatures combined with periods of rain and some sun should help those seeds and seedlings to sprout and grow.