The Garden Fresh Box

The following post was written by Hannah – one of the awesome people involved with the Garden Fresh Box of Guelph. This program is a fantastic way to help out our community while also helping out our local food producers.

Garden Fresh Box (GFB) program is a monthly fresh produce buying program that provides community members with a value packed box of fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting our local farmers. Garden Fresh is non-profit and volunteer-driven.

At the beginning of each month community members place their order for either a large, $20 or small, $15 box of produce. In a recent evaluation of the Garden Fresh Program we discovered that there are actually $26-$28 dollars worth of produce in the $20 box!!! The Garden Fresh Box is a great way to stretch a food budget.

On the third Wednesday of each month fresh produce is sorted then delivered to the neighbourhood host sites where community members can pick up their boxes of produce. With each order, community members receive a newsletter filled with information on nutrition, food storage, food preparation tips and recipes.

This innovative and inclusive monthly fresh produce box program follows the Guelph Community Health Centre’s (Guelph CHC) vision, mission and values. We strive to be valued leaders in the community and supportive of those with barriers to well-being. The Guelph CHC provides innovative primary health services and community programs, of which the Garden Fresh Box is included. Guelph CHC’s programs and services are developed with the following values in mind: Innovation, excellence, accountability, accessibility, health promotion, sustainability and participation.

GFB is committed to working with our community’s priority population to provide access to healthy and nutritious fresh produce. Our priority population includes individuals who live in Guelph who face barriers to health. We encourage volunteer participation with planning, newsletter development and at our monthly box packing day

Who can order a Garden Fresh Box? GFB program is open to everyone. Community members choose to participate in the GFB program. They purchase boxes or receive subsidies boxes or volunteer for the program. Although the program is universal our marketing and communication efforts are targeted to those in need, community members living with barriers to access.

How many people benefit from Garden Fresh Boxes? Every month we pack and deliver 170 to 250 Garden Fresh Boxes, many of which are for families. Every month there are 20-30 volunteer opportunities. In total over 400 community members benefit monthly from this program.

Who supplies the produce? We source produce as locally as possible while keeping the value in the box. Local farmers and produce suppliers are paid for the produce provided to the program.

Why is Garden Fresh Box needed? A recent evaluation of the program done by a UofG student concluded that the GFB program is important to our community. This program helps community members to overcome barriers to access to healthy and nutritious food. This program also contributes to the local economy by supporting our local farmers, community supported agriculture groups (CSA’s) and food distributors. The Garden Fresh Box program supports increased access to locally grown food and consumption of fruit and vegetables and decreases dependency on emergency food programs. With over 15 city wide host-site communities and increased individual capacity through meaningful volunteer opportunities, Garden Fresh is a wonderful community building program.

What does Garden Fresh need from the community? Our most basic need is funding. Funds are needed to cover our subsidies boxes. Over 50 of our Garden Fresh customers only pay 1/2 of the $20 or $15 cost of the boxes. Your funds would help to ensure we can provide subsidized boxes every month.

How can I make a donation? Contact Hannah Senitt at the Guelph CHC. 519-8216638 x344. gfbox@guelphchc. OR Visit the Guelph CHC website and click on the donate now button.

A charitable tax receipt for contributions over $20 is available. If your business or organization is interested in supporting the GFB program feel free to contact us about sponsorship opportunities.