Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford [SMW] has mobilized to help address COVID-19 in the community. Group leader Michèle Andrews says that when the global pandemic was declared she started looking for a group in Merrickville-Wolford which was responding to it and offering support. When she didn’t find anything, SMW decided to repurpose their Facebook page to connect with people in the community who were in need of assistance. “Our focus has always been community building and local resilience,” she says. “It felt like this still fit.”
A lot of SMW’s focus has been on helping the Rideau Community Health Service’s Emergency Food Cupboard. Michèle says SMW hooked the Food Cupboard up with Healthily Ever After, which is now allowing people to drop off donations on their porch, so they don’t have to go into the Health Centre to donate food. Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford volunteers are also helping the Food Cupboard deliver groceries to their clients, so they don’t have to leave their home in order to receive support.
The group is planning on creating a campaign to encourage people to start a garden this spring. Plant, Grow, Share a Row is a country-wide initiative that hopes to inspire people to start a garden and share their produce with those in need. “Gardening is so therapeutic and will serve [the community] in so many ways,” Michele says.
There has also been a recent resurgence across the province of the “Victory Gardens” grown during WW1 and WW2, meant to help with food supply and to boost morale. Michèle says it is possible to buy seed from local farmers online, and there are lots of YouTube videos out there to help people start their own backyard gardens. “It’s something fun and productive for people to do,” she says.
Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford is using their Facebook page to try and match volunteers with the needs of the community. They are willing to match volunteers with anyone needing support, even local restaurants and businesses which may need help making deliveries. “[We want] local businesses to have ongoing support,” she says.
Supporting local producers is crucial in times like these, and Michèle says they are encouraging people to look into Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) baskets put together by local farmers. Healthily Ever After is a great place to find all sorts of healthy, local products. “The more we encourage local farmers to grow, the better,” she says.
SMW is encouraging people who want to help out, or are in need of support, to reach out through their Facebook page. They can also be reached by email at [email protected]
Overall, Michèle is in awe of how the Merrickville-Wolford community is connecting to support each other. She hopes that the lessons learned during this global pandemic will be applied to other global threats, like the ever-present climate change crisis. “I am hoping we can build resilience and take lessons from this,” she says. “Believe in the professionals, and learn from this for the next crisis.”