BY RYAN WELLICOME
The Lacombe NeighbourShare public facebook group is giving Lacombians options to find fresh, organic produce while simultaneously promoting healthy, local eating.
The group originated from an idea that group founder Vicki Sullivan got when her neighbours would accumulate rotten apples on their lawn.
“I just wanted to figure out a way for people to not waste (produce) and use it,” said Sullivan.
She took her neighbours’ apples and made a batch of apple sauce, and thus, the idea was born.
Originally, Sullivan had not considered facebook but became overwhelmed by how complicated it became without the assistance of social media.
“Eventually I just realized I could make a facebook group and that was it. Done,” said Sullivan.
The group allows residents to connect and share fruits and vegetables, gardening advice and even seeds.
Produce such as zucchini, rhubarb, raspberries, apples, onions, potatoes and beets are just a few types that residents share.
Sharing excess seeds has also become a trend among group members.
“You can get the nicest, most expensive, organic seeds you want and then share the rest and they won’t be wasted,” said Sullivan. “Someone else can enjoy them.”
Sullivan said there has been attempts, by some, to sell produce through the group but she directed them elsewhere, explaining that she wishes to keep the group based around good will and sharing.
The group has been growing steadily and currently boasts 250 members. The effort has also garnered positive attention from the City of Lacombe.
The City is part of the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association’s (ARPA) wellness program Communities ChooseWell.
ChooseWell is a province-wide program that helps foster and promote community wellness initiatives through toolkits, seed grants and networking. The program is funded through Alberta Health and managed by ARPA.
The City of Lacombe has been involved with the program of a number of years and has even garnered an Overall High Achiever award in 2013.
City of Lacombe Recreation and Culture administrative assistant Sonya Beauclair oversees the City’s participation.
With the support of the Communities ChooseWell program, the City organizes community health challenges and activities that encourage residents to make healthy choices and lead more active lifestyles.
Challenges such as the annual Winter Active challenge, the 21 Days to Healthy Eating Challenge and the active living fair are some of the initiatives the City organizes.
Beauclair said she is impressed with the NeighbourShare group and wishes to help promote local eating.
“We think (the group) falls under ChooseWell and we want to try and support them, encourage them and just help them promote it,” she said.
“I think it’s great to able to support each other and buy the local food and I always think it’s great if you can share what’s in your own backyard.”
The City may have plans to follow in NeighbourShare’s footsteps by planting more produce in public areas and along trails.
It also wishes to allow visitors and residents to find public produce by adding the locations of community produce on the its next trails map.