Kingsway Mall Expands Rooftop Garden to Support Edmonton’s Food Bank

Kingsway Mall in Edmonton has expanded its rooftop garden to support Edmonton’s Food Bank with the goal of providing more fresh produce to the community. Building on the success of last year’s initiative, the mall has increased the number of planters in its rooftop garden from 30 to 54 and added its first ever beehive. The mall aims to donate 300 pounds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to the food bank this year, up from 100 pounds last year. “We learned a lot from last year, and are very excited to apply those learnings, add a lot more pots, and add our first ever beehive,” said Bo Tarasenko, marketing manager at Kingsway Mall. “Our goal is to have a successful garden and work with our gardeners at MicroHabitat as well as our retail gardeners here at Glass Earth Inc., to do that, but also to just raise awareness and inspire people to try urban gardening and beekeeping. And, most of all, to raise awareness for the food bank and encourage people to volunteer and donate to support.” Each month, Edmonton’s Food Bank supports more than 34,000 people and distributes nearly six million kilograms of food annually. The demand for the food bank’s services has increased by 44% in the past four years. “Fresh produce is always needed for our food programs which is why we appreciate initiatives like Kingsway Mall’s rooftop garden with MicroHabitat,” said Tamisan Bencz-Knight, manager of strategic relationships and partnerships with Edmonton’s Food Bank. “Let’s make giving a habit and put food on the table for those in need while getting your hands a little dirty.” The rooftop garden is a partnership between Kingsway Mall and MicroHabitat, a sustainability and urban farming organization. Robert Reuther, an urban farm coordinator with MicroHabitat, said the garden grows a variety of produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini, rosemary, chive, parsley, and chard. “It’s an advantage that I think a lot of people take for granted,” Reuther said. “Having our own fresh produce is really important.” The food bank hopes this initiative will not only provide fresh produce to those in need but also raise awareness about the agency’s acceptance of homegrown produce donations. “We encourage the community to grow an extra row of vegetables for donation through our ‘Plant, Grow, Share a Row’ program,” Bencz-Knight said. The food bank’s media and communications coordinator, Doug Thomson, said fresh produce is highly valued by those who rely on the hamper program. “At the end of the season when the produce starts to roll in and we can start to add this fresh produce to the hampers, people love it,” Thomson said. “It’s just so much fresher and it just tastes better when it comes from the garden. “Edmonton is an incredible community when it comes to giving and helping,” he said. “The rooftop garden here is just another way this community helps. And we need the help. We’re seeing numbers that continue to climb.”

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