‘Green walls’ aim to increase food drive’s fresh food donations

A vertical garden or green wall. Photo courtesy of Food Bank Co-Executive Director Glen Pearson.

New vertical gardens that allow the green-thumbed to grow veggies on any outside wall or fence are being utilized to boost the amount of fresh food donated to the London Food Bank.

The city kicked off its 25th annual London Cares Curb Hunger food drive in support of the local food bank on Wednesday. This year, so-called “green walls” will be distributed for free to Londoners willing to grow fresh eats for families who rely on the food bank.

“Supplying fresh food is a critical part of our work and now we’ll be offering free Green Walls as a way for more people to contribute to this important initiative,” said Food Bank Co-Executive Director Jane Roy. “Last year, 55 per cent of the food distributed by the London Food Bank was fresh, and we hope to keep growing that number.”

Green walls are three-foot square pieces of felt with 49 pockets for growing vegetables vertically. They can be hung outside on a wall or fence. Food harvested from the green walls is to be brought back to the food bank or neighbourhood food bank depots.

The new initiative is one of three ways Londoners can provide fresh produce for the food bank. The other two ways are through the plant a row, grow a row and adopt a plot programs. Grow a row sees gardeners add an extra row of vegetables to their gardens in the spring and then donate the produce at harvest time. Adopt a plot allows people to sign up to help plant, raise, and harvest vegetables for client hampers at the food bank’s on-site garden beds.

Non-perishable food and financial donations are also still being accepted through the drive which runs from now until June 18. Unlike in previous years, donations will not be collected curbside. They can be dropped off at any participating grocery store, London fire hall, or at the London Food Bank at 926 Leathorne St. Financial donations can be made online at londonfoodbank.ca.

In addition to feeding more than 25,000 people in need of food each year, the annual food drive raises awareness of the increased need over the summer months – a time when donations drop off as people focus on summer vacation and activities.

“Enabling access to food is critical to the health and well-being of our community,” said Mayor Ed Holder. “The London Cares Curb Hunger campaign has supported this need for years and continues to be a great way for the people of London to take part in supplying families with the fresh and non-perishable food they need.”