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A community garden run by members of Ancaster Christian Reformed Church is harvesting record amounts of produce, with thousands of pounds of produce yet to be picked.

Supported by local businesses, the garden provides produce for Hamilton area food banks and shelters.

So far this season, the garden has yielded 2,900 pounds of beans, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, and zucchini. Volunteer coordinator Michelle Dam estimates that another 3,000 to 4,000 pounds will be harvested over the next few weeks.

The garden project was initiated three years ago by retired farmer John Voortman and his wife, Aleida. Voortman and other volunteers are certain that this garden is blessed. Each time Voortman goes out to the garden, he asks God to lead the gardeners’ efforts. That first season, despite province-wide drought, the garden had a substantial harvest.

The project has its challenges, including diseases and pests, which are managed by using natural, eco-friendly methods. It can also be difficult finding enough volunteers to weed and harvest the crops.

“We have a very dedicated group of volunteers that come out each week, but in a season like this, it’s hard to keep up,” said Dam.

This year, because of constant fluctuation of temperatures and moisture, disease struck early. “Still, we have dead plants with beautiful tomatoes ripening on the vines.” Dam said, “I’m amazed they got to this stage. The only explanation I have is that God’s hand is at work in this garden.”

Dam, who also works in the seed and garden industry, became involved during the second season of the garden. She and Voortman spend over 10 hours each week managing and tending to the crops. It’s a project that is very important to her: “There’s such need here in Hamilton and God has called me to this project. I feel it’s a great way to contribute, to use my expertise to serve our community.”

Ancaster Community Garden can be found on Facebook under the group Ancaster Food Bank Donation Garden

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