Article from Clarington This Week
Forsythe Family Farms has created a Giving Garden where visiting groups and organizations can learn about farming and harvest produce for a donation.
Family farm sowing charitable acts with Giving Garden initiative
UXBRIDGE — Among the rows of strawberries and other produce customers can pick themselves or purchase at Forsythe Family Farms market is a smaller patch of land.
Here, the potatoes, beans, peas, tomatoes, lettuces, beets, zucchini and more don’t end up in the market, they are gifted to those who need them.
“I had this plot of land and I had the idea to give everything away, with the caveat that everything then had to be given to others,” said Jim Forsythe, owner of Forsythe Family Farms, who originally came up with the idea for the Giving Garden.
“We’re enabling others to give in a practical way through food.”
Forsythe was inspired to create the Giving Garden due to his own experience of receiving aid from friends during difficult times.
“We had moved from one farm in Markham to another, and we were struggling to get going, with two young kids, and at the time we belonged to a Mennonite Church,” Forsythe recalled of his experience.
“One friend showed up one day with a quarter of beef, I said ‘you don’t have to do that,’ and he said ‘it’s God’s love.’ So I kindly accepted it, and later another friend said ‘Jim, you need a new truck,’ and he loaned me the money to buy a new one, interest-free. So I had my own personal experience of God’s love through these guys, and I thought, we’re in the produce business, how can we incorporate that into the concept of giving.”
And just like that, the Giving Garden was born. All crops grown on the 1.5-acre plot of land are available to be harvested by anyone, with the caveat that anything harvested must then be given away.
Various groups have taken advantage of the concept. The Refuge in Oshawa, which provides programs to support homeless youth and youth in poverty, has harvested vegetables to cook supper for clients, Sikh workers harvest vegetables to bring to temple as offerings, and Regent Park’s Green Thumbs Growing Kids youth group recently visited the farm to harvest vegetables for its biweekly farmers' market, which raises funds for the group’s programming.
“We’re trying to engage urban youth from Toronto who don’t usually have a chance to get out on the farm” said Hilda Nouri, garden and food educator with Green Thumbs.