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Look What We Can Achieve When We Work Together

One Tomato is a Sarnia-Lambton-based organization that partners with many organizations to encourage everyone to participate in a food secure and sustainable community. They host community events to encourage donations of produce to food banks; children kitchen programs; and community gardens, allowing free access to delicious produce.

We love everything One Tomato stands for, so we quickly found ourselves playing an integral role in its community gardening initiative. In the spring of 2018, we approached One Tomato with a fresh idea – to donate hundreds of fluorescent-tube grow lights and support the planting of more locally grown vegetable plants for the benefit of our community.

One Tomato loved the idea! Within a few weeks, trays of soil with sprinkled with seeds, and systems of grow lights were arranged to support the healthy growth of plants at One Tomato’s Sarnia, Ontario headquarters. Not only did the lights help the vegetable plants grow faster, volunteers were able to grow ten times as many plants as it normally does. But the benefits didn’t end there. The plants grown were given to local groups that manage the network of community gardens throughout Lambton County. One such organization is the West Lambton Community Health Centre, which manages the Rotary Club of Sarnia’s One Tomato garden through its Opening Doors program, a healthy lifestyle program for people living with mental illness.

They planted dozens of varieties of plants, including the kale, Swiss chard and tomato plants grown and donated through support of New England Arbors, and have been tending the garden all summer long. With their volunteers, they’re not just helping plants to grow, but they’re building life and social skills, confidence, reducing barriers, beating poverty and standing up to food insecurity. Look at what we can overcome when we come together to help a community garden thrive!

All members of Opening Doors program are welcome to access the garden, while other harvested produce is also used in cooking classes, brought to the Inn of the Good Shepherd food bank, shared with the Lambton Mental Wellness Centre, River City Vineyard and used for distribution as random acts of kindness to those in need.

It all started with a bright idea and a few helping hands. What else can communities do when we work together?