The Zion Lutheran Church will soon be home to not only a bi-weekly food bank but also a vertical garden.
Living Garden Foods, based out of Langley, will install two “growing walls” in January.
“In winter, the cost of winter greens is considerably higher,” said Ethan O’Brien, president of Living Garden Foods. “The growing walls will provide nutritious, fresh produce to food bank clientele regardless of outside conditions.”
The $5,200 installation of the vertical garden will be made possible through a grant from the Vancity Shared Success program, which shares 30 per cent of their net profits with members of community organizations.
Thirteen feet long and six feet tall, the walls will be able to grow 600 pounds of fresh produce in a year, including vegetables such as lettuce, swiss chard, mustard greens, kale and collards.
“They look a little bit like bookshelves,” said Pastor Ian Wemyss. “We hope to put them in the front hall so that our school, our church and our community can be a part of the process and see the food being grown for the food bank.”
Cloverdale’s Food Bank
Not everyone can make it to Whalley to access the Surrey Food Bank’s warehouse location, so the food bank distributes in North Delta, Cloverdale and Newton-Green Timbers on alternating weeks. In Cloverdale, the Zion Lutheran Church hosts the food bank on every second Tuesday morning. Around 80 families access the service from the church, which can serve up to 300 people every two weeks.
“The family of volunteers at Zion Lutheran Church is especially kind and supportive to our clients,” said Surrey Food Bank executive director Marilyn Herrmann. “They truly care.”
Herrmann said that the volunteers embodied the Surrey Food Bank’s belief that “clients are our neighbours,” and that the Cloverdale location added its own personable approach to the process.
Longtime volunteer Jim Rishel, 83, said that although the food bank starts at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, people will often arrive as early as 8:30 a.m. for coffee and conversation.
Chairs are brought in to the front room of the church and arranged in a half-circle, so that volunteers and clients can mingle and chat. When the truck of food from the Surrey Food Bank warehouse arrives, the coffee drinkers get to work unloading and laying out the week’s food items on tables. Everyone is a pair of helping hands. When The Reporter spoke to Rishel, he didn’t use the word “client” to refer to those who came to use the food bank, he called everyone “people.”
“It’s not that complicated,” said Rishel. “We treat people how we would want to be treated if we were in that situation.”