For the third year running, Gravenhurst Against Poverty (GAP) has planted seeds for its community gardens.

There will be eight gardens set up in Gravenhurst, with Elaine Matthews watching over the ones planted at Gravenhurst High School and Gravenhurst Public School. “We grow all kinds of crops that we give away to people who are facing food insecurity,” she says. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for people, especially seniors, to access fresh produce. 

It’s free to pick up the vegetables every Monday and Thursday from the basement of the Trinity United Church in Gravenhurst.

According to GAP’s website, the idea of creating gardens came from its 2018 Needs Assessment Survey when people asked for a better way to get fresh, local veggies. 

While GAP’s volunteers are doing most of the heavy lifting by planting and maintaining the gardens, Matthews says anyone can drop off produce they grew in their personal gardens. She adds that they’re always looking for new volunteers to help with the program, or any of the other initiatives GAP has on the go. “GAP is growing so rapidly,” Matthews says.

The garden program is part of the weekly meal pickups GAP does. “I think it’s been received incredibly well,” Past Chair of GAP Joanne Twist told the newsroom at the start of April. She said that around 90 people show up every week to pick up a meal for themselves, to bring to someone else, or both. 

On top of that, Matthews says GAP helps feed upwards of 600 people every week. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions are in place for how the food is picked up. Matthews explains that only a certain amount of people allowed in the building at one time, and when they enter they must follow protocols like wearing a mask. “They go in, see what’s there, take what they need, no questions asked,” she says.