Baie D’Urfe Fritz Farm garden volunteers give produce to food banks
Baie D’Urfe Fritz Farm Garden – In early September, volunteer gardeners at the Fritz Farm Youth Gardening Association (FFYGA) in Baie d’Urfé loaded up six big crates of vegetables to donate to local food banks. The food produced was grown without pesticides and this was the fourth successful growing season for these gardeners.
“We harvested some 4,000 pounds (about 1800 kg) of produce on 10,000 square feet (929 sq metres) of gardens,” explains Brian Manning, a Fritz gardener and Town Councillor in Baie d’Urfé. “We try and involve youths in this effort, teaching them where food comes from and how to grow it. We also try to teach how food helps a community by sending it to the underprivileged.”
Baie D’Urfé volunteers help involve local youth in bettering their community, teaching them how to grow their own food, assume responsibility for others and contribute to developing social values. The Garden at Fritz program also aims to connect veteran gardeners with our youth through teaching about gardening, according to the FFYGA’s website.
Youths involved with the garden come from local boy scouts or girl guide packs, two elementary schools, and a daycare centre.
On September 9, sunflowers about 10 feet tall were very evident as were some huge pumpkins remained; FFYGA president Robert Brown estimating the weights of some of them at about 100 pounds. “Our record is 150 lbs (68kg) for a pumpkin grown in 2015, in that case by a kid named Oliver. Kids take ownership of individual pumpkins and learn tricks to make them grow bigger. Apart from using special seeds, one such trick is pruning the plant so that all of its energy goes to one pumpkin.”
Some 15 varieties of vegetables are grown at the Fritz Farm, including cucumbers tomatoes, leeks, and onions.
Brown and Manning pointed to the permeable black geotextile fabric covering the ground. “This makes it much easier to control the weeds,” explained Manning. “As for insects, we did lose a lot of leeks one year, but otherwise don’t have many problems with insect pests. Baie d’Urfé is a pesticide-free zone.”
The 20 volunteers of FFYGA also forego chemical fertilizers and instead compost garden wastes back into the soil to ensure its fertility.
A farmer named George Fritz had a farm on the land, said Manning, perhaps as recently as the 1960s.
The FFYGA thanks the Town of Baie D’Urfé for providing the land, also thanking Mike Bleho from the McGill University Horticultural Centre, and various corporate sponsors for making the program possible.
When asked about plans for 2018, Brown says it will be: “More of the same; we will just be trying to further increase the yield.”
20477 Lakeshore Rd, Baie D’Urfé
Feature image: Fritz Farm volunteer gardeners stand in the pumpkin patch photo: John Symon – mtltimes.ca