Calgary's The Giving Garden in need of volunteers to build planter boxes

The fruitful harvest of a local woman's large garden years back has blossomed into an ongoing effort to feed Albertans in need, but now she's in need of a little help.

In 2016, Dawna Britnell realized she had far too much fresh produce then her and her family needed so she donated some to a few local charities.

The Giving Garden was established the following year with five volunteers helping to harvest vegetables to donate and it has grown significantly since.

"We've started from doing a few 100 pounds each year to close to 6,000 pounds each year depending on if we have a really good growing season," said Britnell.

Now the garden is in need of some renovations. Britnell wants to put down landscaping fabric to keep the weeds from growing while making the 372 square hectare space more sustainable and accessible. The raised garden beds were supposed to be replaced last season but that didn't happen. The plan is to build new ones before planting starts.

"We got a generous donation of lumber for the beds and as you know, lumber is very expensive right now, so we're looking for people to help build the beds," said Britnell. "We have to about June 5 I would say to get that done and we have about 15 beds that need building."

Britnell is looking for some skilled workers to donate time to help build the new planters.  She relies on more than 30 volunteers to help her every year with the massive garden.

Natasha Pfeil is learning a new skill by helping to take the old garden boxes apart with a cordless drill. She likes spending time close to nature.

"I enjoy getting dirty and being around ants and such," said Pfeil. "So I come out, I'm able to help families where I've been in the same position as them where I've needed help so it's giving back."

Robert Laird just started helping out at the garden this spring.

"There are so many people in need right now," explained Laird. "Dawna and the Giving Garden - they are stepping up to the plate, so to speak, and helping people who maybe not too many years ago didn't actually need the help.

Meaghan Herdman is in her second year volunteering and knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of a charitable organization.

"I've had a lot of help in my life and then I wanted to give back and learn all I can about gardening. So it was sort of like I want to go learn and I want to go give, so The Giving Garden (was the best opportunity)."

Britnell is passionate about her not-for-profit charity because she was a victim of domestic violence.

"I have spent time being homeless. I was a single mom raising a child, I know what it's like to have food insecurity and I know what it's like to not have a place to live."

She says the first crop from her garden always goes to a women's shelter in High River.

"To me Rowan House (Society) is one of those organizations that just doesn't get the recognition that they need and they don't have a big name and people don't know who they are.

"I like to support the little guy and the underdog as much as I can."

Britnell and The Giving Garden have donated thousands of kilograms of fresh produce to various charities in the last five years and hope to increase the donation every year.

"There's always a demand that we just can't meet," said Britnell. "The unfortunate part is that it doesn't matter how much food we grow, there's still always going to be a demand.

"I like to think we're making an impact. I just wish we could make a bigger one."

For more details on the cause and ways you can assist, visit The Giving Garden.