Meet the 82-year-old from Quebec whose garden feeds 70 people in his small town

·3 min read
Life-long gardener Edward Griffin wears his prized 41-centimetre wide cabbage leaf as a hat. (Submitted by Edward Griffin - image credit)
Life-long gardener Edward Griffin wears his prized 41-centimetre wide cabbage leaf as a hat. (Submitted by Edward Griffin - image credit)

A life-long gardener in a small Lower North Shore village in Quebec is growing cabbage, turnips and bunches of kale in greenhouses he built himself, to feed the seniors in his community.

Edward Griffin, 82, and his wife cook and deliver about 70 meals for seniors in the community of St. Paul's River every Thursday.

"After we retire, we need to do something," Griffin said of his team of volunteer gardeners.

"It's great, old people get into it, and once you get into it, it's amazing," he said.

Griffin and his wife charge $8 a meal for seniors, and $10 a pop for people under 65. All the profits from those meals are re-invested into the garden in the form of building supplies, seeds and soil.

"We don't get paid for nothing that we do," Griffin said. "We're just all volunteer workers. It's fun."

Submitted by Edward Griffin
Submitted by Edward Griffin

Griffin said it's important to take care of the community and make sure residents, especially seniors, have access to nourishing food to stay healthy.

Planting in greenhouses is nearly essential on the Lower North Shore because of the region's harsh climate. In Griffin's case, what started off as a small plot to grow turnip greens for soup has turned into three large greenhouses filled with veggies like kale, lettuce, and this year, more than 150 bags of cabbage.

"We had a great harvest this year, especially with the new greenhouse I built," he said, laughing as he mentioned one particularly impressive cabbage, which measured 41 centimetres across the leaf. "You should have seen it."

Submitted by Edward Griffin
Submitted by Edward Griffin

For Griffin, who's been gardening since he was a child in the 1940s, it all comes down to consistency, water, and work.

"It's a little challenging, but it's fun," he said. "There's nobody shoving you. You go up and you're in your own world."

Despite the Lower North Shore's rugged climate, people living there have long turned to gardening as a way to be self-sufficient and to take care of their community.

Griffin said it was especially important while he was growing up because people on the coast didn't have much, and if they wanted fresh vegetables, they had to grow them — it was too expensive to order them, and any produce would be rotten by the time it was delivered by boat.

Submitted by Edward Griffin
Submitted by Edward Griffin

"Not many people can afford that kind of stuff," Griffin said, adding that things like berries are particularly pricey.

Griffin's mother had a garden throughout his childhood, and grew cabbage, turnips, and other hearty vegetables.

Now, when Griffin and his wife prepare weekly meals for people in the community, his favourite thing to make is Coaster soup. It's a mix of table scraps: turnip greens or cabbage, onions, potatoes, mixed veggies, and leftover protein, like chicken or beef.

Beyond the nutritional benefits, Griffin says the garden brings people together. They help out, or they show up to pick up food, and they chat.

And Griffin said anyone who's looking to build a greenhouse should just go ahead and do it, because it's worth the investment.

"Instead of getting up and watching TV in the morning, you get up and water your garden, it's great," Griffin said.

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