Hidden garden on top of Stone Road Mall growing food for those in need

Hidden at the very top of Guelph’s Stone Road Mall parking garage is a generous garden.

The mall has been growing produce since spring and donating the harvest to The Seed, part of the Guelph Community Health Center, which distributions the nutrition to those in need.

“Our motto these days is it takes a community to feed a community,” said Madeline Barber, community resources coordinator for The Seed.

Staff at the mall, like maintenance worker Ron Scott, are helping grow that community spirit.

“There’s no shade up here, full sun,” Scott said about the top floor of the parking garage.

The 20 garden boxes were built with mostly upcycled materials including leftover delivery pallets and wood from former construction jobs. The plants are fed with rain water collected in barrels and mulch produced by the shopping center.

“We’ve been building a compost project since 2008 and that’s how we used the soil to enrich for the plants,” Stone Road Mall’s marketing manager Christina Magee said.

“We get a lot of organics from our food vendors, things like coffee grinds, tea leaves, vegetable products,” added Kurt Vosper, operations supervisor for the mall.

Most of the produce has already been harvested for the season except for "some cauliflower that’s still growing,” Vosper said.

Annually, The Seed delivers the equivalent of $1.5 million worth of food to those in need across Wellington County. The mall has already donated 165 pounds this season.

“First we were hoping for 50 pounds,” Vosper said. “Then we saw the first harvest was twenty pounds so we upped our target."

“We would love to see all corporations or businesses in Guelph and Wellington start similar projects. It really is a case of small steps leads to really big outcomes” Barber said.

Next year, the Guelph Mall hopes to double their contributions.