Summer student Ashleigh Walker is tackling her job with the Meaford Food Bank with the confidence and experience that she gained from her two previous summers working in the community gardens at Victoria Village and Georgian Bay Community School (GBCS).
Walker is employed by the Meaford Food Bank with a Service Canada Summer Jobs grant for 20 hours a week, April thorough to late August. At this time of the year, she is kept busy cleaning the gardens, planting, weeding, and watering. As the summer progresses and the gardens produce, she will help distribute the food to Food Bank clients and the public.
For now, the bulk of the work is weeding, according to Walker.
“I’ve learned a thing or two about weeds,” she said. “I’ve become more familiar with what is a weed and what’s not. There are days when I pull weeds two hours at a time – a very long two hours and at times a very hot two hours.”
Often she works solo. Other times she works alongside Community Gardens and Second Harvests Co-ordinator Simona Freibergova, and with the garden team of volunteers, and occasionally with children who live in Victoria Village.
“The children do come around, one or two at a time, sometimes five, as though they were meant to be here,” she said. “It is so important that we include the children, with the idea of teaching children about bugs, how to compost, and how to keep the garden green, healthy, and free of weeds. Some children come in with parents and families. Some rent their own garden plot or they help us with the community garden, gather produce for their family or for other families who might need produce.”
The Meaford Food Bank staff are looking forward to a return to normal, according to Freibergova.
“As soon as the COVID-19 restrictions lift, we are going to go back to our routine,” she said. “Ashleigh will be involved in the gardening and kids’ cooking classes and the summer games at Victoria Village and she will manage the Freshly Picked market at the Meaford Bethany Church of the Nazarene.”
For the first time this year, Walker is involved in preparing for the 10th annual plant sale scheduled for June 5, 9 a.m. to noon, at the GBCS community garden when edibles and pollinator-loving plants will be sold on a donation basis.