Story by Gareth Vieira. Photo by Jeanette Breward.

For Craig Smith, who moved to Port Hope last year, the thought of not having a garden in his new home was inconceivable and so, the avid gardener went out into the community and found himself a garden and the rest, as they say, is history.

            Thanks to Smith and his associates at Limelight Advertising and Design, Peter Gabany and his wife Suzi (the Tomato Lady), Punk Rock Produce was established and has become an integral part of our community. PRP offers a variety of produce that is available to the public through the Fare Share Food Banks.

“It all began with a walk that I took last year over to the Walton, where I came across a plot of land behind a yellow brick wall with all these giant weeds,” said Smith. “The land was really overgrown and it took a lot of work to tear off the top of it. We had some tilling to do and Ian Sculthorpe, from Sculthorpe Farms, dropped off some compost for us.”

            The planting started in March of 2016. The Communities gratitude and support were felt from the get go, as businesses like Ganaraska Art and Framing helped with donations and gave PRP free hosting for their website.

“This year the momentum is even higher”, said Smith. 

            And, their efforts have not gone unnoticed as other gardeners from far and wide visit their website, interested in learning about PRP model of community gardening.

“We were even contacted by a young guy in Mexico City last year who wanted to start a community garden and was looking for some tips,” said Smith. “We don’t know about their climate but we know about plants. He has gone ahead and at last contact has had a lot of success.”

            Smith cites the volunteers that came out last year and those that have already stepped up this year as one of the major reasons for Punk Rock Produce’s success.

“We have dedicated volunteers — some who have never tried their hand at gardening and others who are getting back to it, as well as seasoned gardeners. It’s about creating discussion and showing young people these skills. We also have a number of High School Students who volunteer and at the same time receive their community hours for School.”

            One of the great achievements by PRP has been their work with the local food bank where they were happy to deliver 700 pounds of produce last year and are looking forward to doing the same this year.

“Craig and our intern Chase Mahaffy,” said Gabany, “would pick and put everything in bags and either walk up or drive the produce over to the food bank where the recipients were extremely appreciative. Up to 2012, there was very little fresh produce given to the food bank and this effort by PRP is an extra push in that direction”.

Smith and his partner, Amy Carey, even converted some of the produce into food, like their Zucchini bread which was also donated to the food bank, something they plan to do more of this year.

“I think there’s a lot of people becoming more conscious of gardening for food and how important it is,” said Smith. “I also think through community organizations, like The Greenwood Coalition, these issues are being addressed. The food bank, which has been around for thirty years, highlights the fact that even after all that time its services are still needed and that it is a problem. Everyone should have food on their table.”

This year the PRP gardens are expanding, looking for other places to garden, other organizations to partner up with and other new and challenging opportunities.

            Smith was recently nominated for the stars of Port Hope Civic Awards, which aims to recognize the contributions and achievements of individuals or groups that bring honour and enrichment to the Municipality of Port Hope. The awards will be held on April 27, 2017

For more information on Punk Rock Produce are up too contact them at their website or visit their Facebook page.