Charity Stories

Project Share

t’s been said that if you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

If Jo Low, operations manager at Project Share in Niagara Falls, were to edit that quote, it might read, ‘If you have 170 gardens and a garden co-ordinator, you have everything you need.’

All those gardens, part of Project Share’s community garden network spread over three sites in the Cataract City, were the impetus for the food bank applying for a $15,000 Community Grant from the Niagara Community Foundation last year. Low, who served as the garden co-ordinator previously, needed help overseeing the plots and the people renting or borrowing them to grow their own produce and become more food secure, which is a large part of Project Share’s mission.

Money from the community foundation enabled Project Share to hire a student from the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture to help with everything from troubleshooting for gardeners and co-ordinating volunteers, to hosting workshops that turn regular thumbs into the greenest of thumbs.

An additional grant from elsewhere meant Project Share could double up on the help and harvest more than 1,500 pounds of food for its own services throughout the season.

Equally as important, especially with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, 170 individuals and families could reap the benefits of getting their hands dirty, getting outside, and growing an average 150 pounds of food each to nourish body and soul. 

“The garden was in good hands with the girls we hired,” Low said. “We learned that during a pandemic, community gardens are even more important to people in terms of their mental health, sense of community, food security, and general well-being.”