Bayer Canada employee gets funding for A local food initiative
For over ten years, Bayer has supported employee volunteer efforts around the world through its Role Model Program, part of the Bayer Cares Foundation.
The Role Model Program recognizes employee-led volunteer projects which make a significant contribution in local communities where Bayer employees live and work. Through one-time monetary grants, employees are able to help fund projects they are involved with that focus on improving health care, education and nutrition.
For Allan Kaastra, Senior Agronomic Development Representative for Bayer’s Crop Science division in Guelph, receiving this grant meant that he could improve operations and increase efficiencies on the volunteer-run farms he coordinates, which provide fresh produce to those in need. Spanning across three acres, these farms harvest more than 22,690kg (50,000lb) of fresh vegetables, which are donated to Lakeside Hope House.
Lakeside Hope House provides immediate relief and ongoing support to members of the Guelph community. One of its immediate relief programs is its Food Market. Set up like a small grocery store, the Food Market gives community members the ability to walk through the aisles and choose groceries based on their individual requirements. With the crops produced on these volunteer-run farms, Lakeside Hope House is able to offer fresh produce as a healthier alternative to canned goods.
Gillian Cornell, Immediate Relief Program Manager at Lakeside Hope House has already seen the positive impact these crops have had in the food market.
“The farm fresh vegetables that are grown in our joint community gardens have expanded the diet and facilitated better nutrition of our community members allowing health changes to happen naturally,” said Gillian.
And it doesn’t end there! Once the Food Market is fully stocked, the excess produce gets donated to other organizations around the city. This ensures that people visiting other service points within Guelph can also access fresh produce as a healthy alternative.
“Being involved with this project and watching it grow has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Allan. “In utilizing the experience and expertise of my colleagues, we have been able to establish a range of vegetable crops suitable for the growing program which has evolved over the last four years. We started with a crop of sweet corn, and are now providing summer and winter squash, beets, beans, potatoes, peppers and pumpkins.”
It was the success of the first crop of sweet corn that led to the summer with Lakeside Hope House that exists today. The crop produced enough corn to feed a couple hundred people and that is exactly what they did! The team donated the excess corn during Lakeside Hope House’s grand opening celebration and from there a formal donation program was developed.
There are now two completely volunteer- run farms in operation which provide fresh produce to the Food Market. Some of the volunteers include Bayer employees, local community members and clients from Lakeside Hope House who are looking to pay forward the kindness they have received.