News / Ottawa

Urban gardening campaign grows potatoes for a cause

Even condo owners can get in on the gardening action, and Soldiers Helping Soldiers hopes they'll donate some bounty to the city's neediest residents.

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais, left, and retired Sergeant Dannelle Gauthier plant potatoes in Blais' backyard on Thursday.

Emma Jackson/Metro

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais, left, and retired Sergeant Dannelle Gauthier plant potatoes in Blais' backyard on Thursday.

Take one sunny balcony, add one garbage bag, a healthy serving of soil, a pinch of bone meal, and some sprouting potatoes. Add water and wait.

That simple recipe could yield you up to 100 pounds of potatoes this summer – a bounty one charity hopes you’ll donate to your local soup kitchen.

Soldiers Helping Soldiers has launched the Grow Potatoes program, which aims to feed Ottawa’s hungry right from the city's balconies and backyards.

To get started, you don’t even need a proper planter: just grab “a big old garbage bag,” punch some drainage holes in the bottom and fill it up, said retired sergeant Dannelle Gauthier, the project’s co-ordinator.

A single medium-sized planter can yield 20 pounds of nutritious, filling potatoes from just five seeds.

Thank goodness, because the average Ottawa soup kitchen uses about 120 pounds a day, Gauthier said.

As the potatoes grow, residents can store them unwashed until Sept. 17, when the veterans charity hopes to haul in 40,000 pounds.

“You can just imagine the impact that would have on our community,” Gauthier said.

Coun. Stephen Blais has already planted enough for 100 pounds in his Orleans backyard. He encouraged even the most unseasoned gardeners to join in.

“They’re relatively easy to do,” Blais said. “You don’t have to be a green thumb to do it.”

For complete planting instructions, visit justfood.ca/soldiers-helping-soldiers.

More on Metronews.ca