May 4, 2020 🌱 An update from The Stop’s Greenhouse 🌱 For over a decade, The Stop’s Greenhouse team have spent their spring months growing thousands of seedlings for The Stop’s four garden spaces—the Green Barn sheltered garden, the Global Roots intergenerational garden, the Mashkikii;aki’ing medicine wheel garden, and Earlscourt—and for giving away to community gardens and food organizations across the city. Here’s an update from Chelsea Atkins-Macchione, The Stop’s Greenhouse Coordinator, on what this work looks like in light of COVID-19: “Since the beginning of March, we’ve been carrying out our growing plans. But as the reality of the pandemic kicked in, we decided to increase the number of seedlings we’d produce. We knew that the communities we serve would be facing increased financial strain, and likely have more difficulty accessing fresh vegetables. We also knew about the possibility of higher food prices due to the stress on the agricultural sector. Our food system heavily relies on migrant workers who travel to Canada from other countries. Due to fewer workers arriving—and the continued poor working conditions for so many of those who are employed—this would have a major impact on our food system. But all this new seedling growth was still a bit of a leap of faith. When park amenities across the province were shut down to promote physical distancing, community gardens were closed along with them, and we didn’t know if our seedlings would find homes. Thanks to the great efforts of food justice and growing organizations, who came together to rally for community gardens to re-open with safe working conditions, last weekend the province finally deemed them as essential. The additional seedlings that we’ve grown will soon be shared into the community—to other gardens and to individuals—and the fresh produce that comes from our own seedlings will be shared as it always has: to individuals and in The Stop’s programs like the Food Bank and takeout meals. We’ve had some setbacks as we wait for the city and municipal health authorities to give us the green light to physically access our growing spaces and put our hands in the soil, but we’re very pleased that we continue to be more or less on track for growing in our gardens! Here’s what else The Stop has been up to this week: Diving Into our Food Bank Data COVID-19 has dramatically affected both our food services and the people accessing them. Our Food Bank has seen sharp increases in the percentage of women, seniors, and children using our hampers. Next week, we’ll share the full results of our findings in our e-newsletter and on social media. Happy May Day! Before COVID-19, food bank use by working people had increased 27% over the last 3 years. On May Day, we committed to advocating that all workers have the wages and supplies they need to thrive. Read our past op-ed in the Toronto Star about why protecting workers is critical to protecting our city’s health and food security. A Message for National Volunteer Week “Food insecurity is a constant for many people, when so many things in their lives aren’t constant at all. The Stop brings them a sense of security, of stability. This feels important to me—that we can still connect, despite everything going on around us.” Read a personal essay from Suzanne, a Friday morning volunteer since 2018.