September Volunteer of the Month – Allan Kaastra
An Interview with Allan Kaastra, Lead Farmer – Harvest of HOPE
1.What brought you to HOPE House?
My wife Shiona and I had volunteered for a number of years downtown Guelph prior to HOPE House initiating. When the doors first opened at HOPE House, we felt it was good opportunity for us to make more of an impact by using our gifts to help those within the community.
- What do you like about volunteering at HOPE House?
Volunteering at HOPE House has allowed me to share my passion for agriculture with those that want to learn. Initiating the Harvest of HOPE project has allowed me to lead a small group of people to produce high quality vegetables and share them with the community. Farmers have a big role in feeding a growing population, so while tending the gardens, we would discuss things like: how to grow your own vegetables in your back yard, or understand how larger farms manage the complexities and challenges from seeding to harvest, and even hot topics like how the government regulates pest control products.
- How have you seen HOPE House change lives?
I have to admit you won’t find me in the actual building where HOPE House resides very frequently, my playground is the farm. But that said, I’ve seen how the produce grown and harvested has strengthened the Guelph community, especially between relief agencies. When we harvest vegetables, I know that HOPE House will utilize what was donated and not waste it. They will also share excess produce to other agencies, which in turn creates a relationship of trust and sharing among a group of agencies rather than each agency working for themselves and on their own. The power of community is amazing.