Twice a year, Home Hardware hosts an event in St. Jacobs where store owners get to see new products and share ideas. It was one of those ideas that led to thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables for those who need it most in Woolwich Township.

An employee at the Home Hardware store in Orillia had started growing food to donate to their local food bank. Julia Swijters, who works in the hardware chain’s corporate office, loved the idea and made plans to take it to the next level locally.

“Julia came to me and asked about a community garden here at Home Hardware,” says Stew Gingrich, vice-president of human resources at Home Hardware. “I thought ‘Gee, that’s a great idea.’”

A plot of land across the street from the company’s distribution centre in St. Jacobs was set aside, and seeds were planted in May.

By the time June rolled around, the first of the weekly donations was headed to the food bank at Woolwich Community Services in Elmira.

“This was their initiative,” says Kelly Christie, the director of community supports at Woolwich Community Services. “People are just loving it. They’re trying foods they’ve never had the opportunity to try.”

In total, the community garden donated 2,344 pounds of fresh vegetables for the food bank. That was enough to provide fresh food for 85 families in need. They also raised more than $600 in donations.

Swijters hopes that this is just the beginning.

“We have three distribution centres across Canada. You can only just let yourself dream some days about what we could do,” says Swijters.