Giving with your garden is a growing idea in Steinbach.

Amy Funk has always liked the idea of little free libraries and pantries and since she loves gardening, she came up with an idea to create a little free garden in her front yard.  a sign at the garden invites people to visit and take produce as they need.

This is the second year Funk has tended this garden and the response so far has been fantastic. People walking by their front yard comment on the great idea as they tend the little free garden.

Funk recalls last year’s garden, ‘lots of things were picked, and we'll even sometimes discover a new plant in the garden that we didn't put there that someone else has contributed.’

The little free garden is packed full of produce. A variety of herbs and vegetables, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, spinach, tomatoes are all contained in this little garden that spans the width of the Funk’s front yard.

While the Funk family shares their garden bounty from their front yard, Steinbach Community Outreach is asking gardeners to use up the leftovers in their seed packets.

As they finishing up their planting this year Outreach Executive Director, Irene Kroeker is asking gardeners to consider growing a row of vegetables for their clients.

Kroeker says most of their clients live in apartments and don’t have access to gardens. ‘We are really pushing healthy eating when we do hand out food, and we want to hand out the good healthy things.’

With produce being expensive, many clients can’t afford to purchase fruits and vegetables, and the team at Steinbach Community Outreach has come up with a creative solution relying on the generosity of gardeners.

It’s a simple idea with great possibilities, they’re calling it ‘Grow a Row’

Kroeker explains what they’re asking of local gardeners. ‘We asked people that are making gardens whether they could spare one row to give to us at Steinbach Community Outreach. So that we could give a good amount of produce out to our clients. We thought it would be a kind of a neat idea if somebody is going garden anyways to just to add one more row.’

Steinbach Community Outreach isn’t being specific about what produce they would like gardeners to include in the grow-a-row section of their gardens. Kroeker says ‘we will happily accept any produce that you have out there.’

Kroeker is an avid gardener herself and is familiar with leftover seeds at the end of a row. ‘We all have seeds leftover at the end of our row that we don't know what to do with. Add it to an extra row and then can donate that produce to Steinbach Community Outreach.’ When harvest time comes, Kroeker asks that people drop it off at the outreach at 345 Loewen Blvd in Steinbach.

In the middle of a pandemic, gardening has become a popular way to pass the time for many and Funk has enjoyed sharing her passion. But it's more than that, ‘I like the community aspect and during this pandemic, it's been really nice just to get out and meet new people from a distance and be able to spread a little bit of joy.’