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Sowing the Seeds of Success: Community Partners Help Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow-a-Row Garden

For Neil Hiebert, weeding, watering and planting vegetables are not only a passion, but a way to pay it forward to families in need at Winnipeg Harvest. For the past several years, Neil has not only volunteered in Harvest’s garden growing and harvesting vegetables but has also been a recipient of those carefully nurtured crops. Since falling on hard times several years ago, Neil has lent a helping hand to improving the lives of families by volunteering at Harvest. He remarked that garden’s like Winnipeg Harvest’s Grow-A-Row program can plant the seeds of hope to help feed hungry families while offering dignity to those in need. Hiebert commented, “It’s like gardening for groceries. With every seedling that the community plants and grows in their gardens, it cultivates hope and promise for Winnipeg Harvest clients like me.” 

The Grow-A-Row program blossomed in 1986, when Winnipeg residents Ron and Eunice O’Donovan produced more potatoes in their backyard than they could consume. Their abundant harvest was so well received by Winnipeg Harvest that they decided to encourage friends and the community to also donate surplus produce. Over three decades later, the Grow-A-Row campaign has sprouted over 3.7 million pounds of fresh vegetables and fruit for families in need throughout Winnipeg.

Since 1997, community partners like the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) have championed the Grow-A-Row program by tending to their own garden at the airport. Over the past twenty-one years, WAA has grown more than 60,000 pounds of vegetables in support of Winnipeg Harvest. Every year the garden has been tended by WAA employees, including Colin McFadyen, a staff member that has been volunteering in the garden for the last five years. He’s grateful to have an opportunity to pay it forward to help families in need. “It's the simple things that go the farthest, and volunteering in the garden to help food security is just one example of that,” said McFadyen.

Barry Rempel, President and CEO of WAA commented, “Every day we work with partners to drive business and prosperity for our community. Giving back to the community through initiatives like our long-running Harvest Garden is an important part of that," said Rempel. "In that spirit, we’re asking our partners and neighbours across the city to support those in need by helping fight hunger with Winnipeg Harvest.”

Hunger has no boundaries and continues to be a growing problem in urban, suburban and rural communities throughout our province. Last year, Winnipeg Harvest provided emergency food assistance to 63,791 individuals and distributed 11.5 million pounds of food. Keren Taylor-Hughes, CEO at Winnipeg Harvest, commented that “No act of kindness is too small and if the community rallies together, the smallest ripple can make the biggest wave.” 

About Winnipeg Harvest
Winnipeg Harvest is a community-based, not for profit, food distribution and training centre. Our mission is to share food with hungry families; facilitate training and learning opportunities for our clients and to focus attention on hunger within our community and move towards long-term solutions.

About Winnipeg Airports Authority
Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc. is a non-share capital corporation responsible for the management and operation of Winnipeg Richardson International Airport, the Iqaluit International Airport and other affiliated businesses. An array of cargo and passenger services, a regional economic impact of more than $3.4 billion and an unwavering dedication to our community symbolize our commitment to lead transport innovation and growth. Learn more at

For further information, please contact:
Colleen McVarish
Winnipeg Harvest
Assistant Director of Development and Communications
Office: 204-982-3666

Tyler MacAfee
Director, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs
Winnipeg Airports Authority
Media Line: 204-992-2791
Connect with us on Twitter @YWGairport


CATEGORY: Community