The Grow Your Own Project has become more than just a local initiative.
Starting as a way to bring families together and teach children valuable life lessons, the Grow Your Own Project encourages children to learn how to live a more sustainable life by growing their own food. They are given free seeds to plant at home with their family and then in-turn give some of the vegetables that they grow to the food bank.
"We teach kids to seed, weed, water, harvest and then donate. So it's a pay it forward kind of project," said the creator of the Grow Your Own Project, Dennis Stelmack.
The Food Bank has been involved in the initiative since the beginning. This year, the program is expanding to other communities like Gibbons and Redwater.
Other local businesses have jumped on board as well. The Grow Your Own Project has 72 businesses sponsoring them. They also encourage the employees to bring home seeds and grow vegetables with their own families.
The project has grown exponentially. At the start, three years ago, there were 30 children that participated. Last year, they had 500 kids involved.
"This year we are on target to have over 1000 kids growing and donating food to food banks. Not just here in Fort Saskatchewan. We are now global," said Stelmack.
During his career as a teacher, Stelmack taught in different countries around the world. Many of his former schools have also started participating.
On August 25, the Grow Your Own Project is hosting a free event in Legacy Park. Participants bring vegetables that they have grown throughout the summer that are available for purchase. There are also games and a climate change demonstration with the launch of a weather balloon. Stelmack hopes that the event will spread awareness about what they do.
"If I can give the opportunity to children now to plant vegetable seeds, to grow vegetables and give back to the less fortunate, then I think we all win."