Local Rona owners were a catalyst for further investment at The Sharing Farm in west Richmond

 Alan Campbell / Richmond News

April 1, 2016 12:50 PM

 Plant the seed, water it and watch it grow.

The idea of erecting a new storage, packing and washing facility was sown in 2013, but it needed hydration in the form of funding if it had any chance of sprouting into a real building.

And that’s where Mack and Alma Foster — owners of Rona on Elmbridge Way — stepped in with their watering can in the form of a $15,000 donation to get The Sharing Farm’s $450,000 Mary’s Barn in Terra Nova off the ground.

Once the Fosters had jumped on board, everyone else, including the City of Richmond, started to take the project more seriously and other offers of help, either in-kind or monetary, began to trickle in.

“(The Fosters’ donation) was at a time when we were asking the city to get behind the project and it helped get $10,000 from Kins and other private donors, as well as some provincial funding,” said James Gates, The Sharing Farm’s executive director, explaining that LaFarge in Richmond also donated the concrete for the barn’s foundations.

“It meant we were being taken seriously. The first part of the project is the easier part; the last half is more difficult, in terms of funding.

“But the money came in early, thanks to Mack.”

Mary's Barn

Mary’s Barn at The Sharing Farm in Terra Nova is nearing completion and is a day ahead of its May 31 finish date. – Alan Campbell/Richmond News

Mack said he first learned in 2013 about Mary’s Barn — named in honour of The Sharing Farm founder Mary Gazetas, who passed away in 2012.

“Not long after that, it was made pretty clear that this was going to go ahead,” said Mack.

“I thought this was a great cause and all these people are volunteering their time to feed people in the community.

“I really thought this is something I should get behind.”

At the time, the Fosters’ $15,000 donation was going to be just a tenth of the cost of building the barn.

However, as Mack pointed out, “this is a big number for a small business like us.”

Is Mary’s Barn on schedule to be completed May 31?

“It’s a day ahead,” said Gates, noting that June 18 is pencilled in for the official opening.

The News reported last month how the barn was being named after Gazetas, who was the inspiration behind and a founding member of the non-profit Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project, the original name of The Sharing Farm Society.

In her day, she had recognized the need for healthy fresh food at the Richmond Food Bank and worked to secure a small plot of City of Richmond land in Terra Nova to grow vegetables for the bank.

Mary’s Barn will be key to The Sharing Farm’s operations at the very west end of Westminster Highway, with equipment storage, vegetable washing and packing, cold storage and space to hang the farm’s signature crop — garlic

– See more at: http://www.richmond-news.com/community/seed-funding-helped-mary-s-barn-grow-roots-1.2222259#sthash.WWRPjgDj.dpuf

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