Three people stand in a garden. One is holding pruning sheers and a piece of fruit.

Humber College is regularly donating fresh produce to the Rexdale Community Health Centre (CHC) as that organization works to help feed local families in need.

Vanita Varma said one of her goals as Centre for Innovation in Health and Wellness (CIHW) Director has been to enhance relationships with community partners that support vulnerable populations. She had previously been connected to Rexdale CHC and put forward the organization’s name when she learned about the vegetables that are grown in the Humber Food Learning Garden at North Campus.

Varma said, with inflation impacting food prices, being able to provide an organization with fresh vegetables for free is important. Knowing that the food being grown at Humber is helping those in need makes the program that much more rewarding, she added.

“The food is going to support a community health centre that has been providing healthcare and social services to Rexdale communities for many years,” said Varma. “Many clients are not able to eat healthy simply because they can't afford to purchase fresh food, and I’m so happy to know that they are now receiving fresh produce directly from our Food Learning Garden.”

Humber's Greenhouse and Horticulture Technician Dean Ruhnke connected with Rexdale CHC earlier this summer to work out the details for the ongoing donations from the garden. The Rexdale CHC staff have been coming out every Wednesday to harvest.

Rexdale CHC's Urban Harvest Toronto: Rexdale program works to increase local food access in the community while reducing food waste. They have been sending harvesting teams to Humber for about more than a month, and through this new partnership more than 400 pounds of fresh food has already been distributed this summer.

"This partnership is very impactful to our community," said Althea Martin Risden, director, Health Promotion at the Rexdale CHC. "As the cost of food continues to soar, access to healthy food has diminished therefore our ability to provide freshly harvested vegetables to our clients is invaluable. Good food equals good health and this is why this is such a great partnership."

The garden grows a variety of vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis, bok choy, kale, and lettuce along with herbs such as basil and parsley. It was established as part of the Humber Arboretum in 2018 as a demonstration garden and learning space for Humber students and the wider community.  

Culinary students visit the space to learn about the ingredients they cook with while food from the garden is used in the College’s student-run restaurant The Humber Room and the Humber Soup Bar.  

During the summer, children from the arboretum's Nature Camps visit the garden to learn about growing food and connecting with nature.