Twin sisters lay down roots to help Caledonia and District Food Bank

Twin sisters lay down roots to help Caledonia and District Food Bank
CALEDONIA—Mary Hubert and Margaret Bernhardt proudly stand in front of one of their raised garden beds. —Haldimand Press photos by Joanne Dorr.

By Joanne Dorr

The Haldimand Press

CALEDONIA—Twin sisters Mary Hubert and Margaret Bernhardt have spent many summer hours at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, investing much effort tending to three vegetable gardens in an effort to support the Caledonia and District Food Bank.

The project started when Dorette Allemang, Manager of the Caledonia and District Food Bank, suggested the idea to Reverend Cheryl Baker of St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Mary explains, “(Allemang) knew that the church had the planter boxes and wanted to see if we could grow vegetables for the food bank. Reverend Cheryl knew that we liked to garden, so we said okay.” 

Shortly after, Mary and Margaret began working on the gardens in early spring. After carefully planting seedlings and letting the plants grow, they harvested and packaged various vegetables and delivered the donations weekly to the food bank. Margaret explains that their donations exceeded the expectations of the food bank: “They would say, ‘You got all that from those little beds?’” 

CALEDONIA—Tomatoes from the St. Paul’s Anglican Church garden. —Haldimand Press photo by Joanne Dorr.

Throughout the summer Mary and Margaret donated tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, beans, onions, and potatoes.

With the summer offering very little rain, Mary and Margaret had to make frequent trips to the church to water the plants. 

The 70-year-old twin sisters agree the combined heat and lack of rain kept them busy. Learning that the garden soil lacked calcium proved to be an additional challenge. 

With a view to future projects, Mary notes, “If we do this next year, we are definitely going to have to add nutrients to the soil.” 

Mary and Margaret are quick to add they had a lot of help with the project. Mike and Cheri McNally, owners of the Caledonia Garden Centre, partially funded the cost of the plants and the seeds for the garden. Margaret says when she went to Caledonia Garden Centre, “(Cheri) grabbed a wagon and started putting things on it.” 

Mary and Margaret also benefited from advice from the Caledonia Horticultural Society, an organization that helps with the other gardens at St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

To their delight, Mary and Margaret also received a helping hand from a secret volunteer when their tomato plants grew beyond their expectations. The sisters were propping up the rapidly growing plants using stakes and recycled nylons, but those efforts were not enough. One day they visited the garden and learned that a tenant from a nearby apartment building had installed a large trellis to help with the tomatoes. Mary says, “We didn’t know who had done it.” It was later revealed the tenant was a member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

Margaret and Mary admit that picking the vegetables and watching them grow was very satisfying. Both ladies agree their interest in gardening comes from their grandmother, who tended a large garden of her own when Margaret and Mary were children. 

If you would like to make a donation to the Caledonia and District Food Bank, please call 905-765-9287.