Vouchers offered for veggies

Heather Latter

Lowey’s Greenhouse and the Fort Frances Canadians Midget ‘AA’ hockey program have joined together to provide the community with a new way to purchase vegetables.
Hockey mom Melissa Gushulak noted the idea was mentioned during the hockey season.
“Donna [Lowey] has always been wanting to do as many fundraisers where she can help out different activities,” she explained.
“She said she wanted to do food boxes, but wanted to do that differently where people would have the option to pick out their own vegetables,” added Gushulak.
So having worked with Lowey’s Greenhouse in the past selling vouchers for flowers, they decided to sell vouchers for food boxes.
The vouchers can be redeemed Thursdays from noon-6 p.m. at the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market.
“We thought it was a great idea,” said Gushulak, noting it benefits the hockey program, Lowey, and the community by offering up a variety of healthy, local, fresh vegetables.
“We’re just trying to get it out there because it is something new,” she reasoned, noting the “Farming to Fundraising” food voucher were first redeemed Aug. 6, with about 30 boxes being sold.
“I thought that was great for something that is brand new,” she enthused.
“People aren’t familiar with it,” Gushulak conceded. “It’s not the same as the ‘Healthy Living’ food box program.
“It’s a similar idea but this time almost everything is from [Lowey’s] garden and you get to pick what you want.”
Gushulak said the food box works on a point system.
“You pay $25 for the voucher and when you hand in the voucher, that turns into 25 points,” she explained.
So, for instance, a watermelon might be eights points, a cantaloupe five points, and a two-pound bag of carrots two points.
“As the seasons change, so will the crops,” Gushulak stressed.
“She [Lowey] is hoping to have broccoli and cauliflower this week, and then she’ll be having squash and pumpkins.
“It’s just the idea that people can pick what they want and they won’t be afraid of wasting food because it’s stuff that they will actually eat and use,” she reasoned.
Gushulak also suggested people can share vouchers.
“If two families members want to go in and each pick out 12.5 point each, then that’s fine,” she said, noting vouchers are sold every week.
But it’s hoped people will start buying for a couple weeks so that people selling the vouchers aren’t run off their feet on Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
She explained the reason they are selling them in advance of redeeming them is so Lowey knows how much produce she should harvest.
Gushulak noted the produce is picked on Wednesday each week and brought to the farmers’ market on Thursday.
It’s expected the program will run until October, depending on the weather.
She added although Lowey told the hockey program they don’t have to help out, they will be offering assistance when they can.
“She’s giving us something, we want to do something in return,” Gushulak remarked.
“It’s a lot of work on her part.”
Right now it’s the Fort Frances Canadians Midget ‘AA’ hockey program receiving a portion of the proceeds, but Gushulak noted other groups could benefit in the future.
“[Lowey] doesn’t want to keep the door closed—she wants to help out other organizations, as well,” she stressed.
And Gushulak indicated the food boxes have been well-received so far.
“People seem excited by it,” she enthused. “Some have even posted on Facebook how much produce they got for $25.”
“What a haul,” wrote one happy customer. “[I] picked up my ‘Farming to Fundraising’ box today and so pleased with the selection offered.
“If you’re buying anyway, grab a voucher from Melissa and support the Fort Frances ‘AA’ Canadians and the local farmers.”
“Locally fresh food is great and you can’t get much better than that with the price of things nowadays,” Gushulak said about the $25 cost.
“It’s very positive,” she reiterated, adding it’s also a different way of fundraising instead of selling raffle tickets or chocolate bars.
“Once more people become aware of it, I think it will get bigger and bigger,” she predicted.
To purchase vouchers, call Gushulak at 275-8526.