News Story

How Ottawa–Gatineau Latter-day Saints Learned Garlic Farming

Since 1996, the Ottawa Ontario Stake (similar to a diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided more than 1,200 service hours annually to the Ottawa–Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities’ (OCAPDD) Silver Spring Farm.

“Our church has supported the OCAPDD Silver Spring garlic farm over the past 24 years with volunteers and equipment, such as tractors,” says Ottawa–Gatineau region stake president Terry Nemeth. “Working at the garlic farm has become a regular part of our spring, summer and fall activities. It allows our members and their families to learn about service while working together to help sustain an important organization in our community.”

Church members separate the garlic cloves and help with the planting each fall. Then in the spring and summer, they weed and pick the scapes (the tender stems and flower buds of garlic plants, which are ready for harvesting in late June, before the garlic bulb is ready in late July). Starting the third week of July, Church members help with the garlic harvest, the trimming and braiding activities and the preparations to sell the garlic at the beginning of August. The final activity for the year is covering the garlic with straw to protect the crop from winterkill.

In 2019, garlic sales raised $23,000 for OCAPDD individuals.

Mel Jones, manager of the OCAPDD project for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the past 10 years, volunteers 400 to 500 hours annually. He explains why the Silver Spring Farm initiative is important to him: “I personally get great satisfaction from working on this project that directly helps the developmentally disabled adults cared for by OCAPDD. These people have so little, and the money raised from this project gives them something a little extra, like birthday and Christmas presents plus a chance to go to a camp. It makes me feel that this is the least I can do.”

What started as a volunteer project for a Church Young Women’s class spearheaded by Natalia deSavigny has evolved into a stake-wide activity spanning almost a quarter century. Church members made up about 90 per cent of the volunteers during the first 10 years of the project.

“We appreciate all the work OCAPDD does in our community,” says Nemeth. “Our activities uphold our belief that when we ‘are in the service of [our] fellow beings, [we] are only in the service of [our] God’ (Mosiah 2:17).”

Church members continue to provide a significant number of the garlic harvest volunteers, particularly during this pandemic time. Other organizations in the Ottawa–Gatineau area also support OCAPDD, including various businesses, schools, Algonquin College, Health Canada and Export Development Canada. Other community volunteers also assist, especially to clean and sell the garlic.

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