The Cochrane Horticultural & District Society has donated $1,740.50 to the free food sheds of the Helping Hands Society of Cochrane and Area, thanks to their most successful spring plant and seed fundraiser yet.

Huge lineups formed a half hour before the three-hour annual spring event was held at the Cochrane Public Library, 405 Railway St. W., on May 28.

"This is the most we've ever made," says Horticultural Society president Paola Dottor-Cena. "We had tremendous support from the community and sponsors this year."

"The interest in the horticultural society has gone up and in growing in general since COVID," she said. "I think people are really excited about growing their own food. With the security issues and cost of food, it kind of turned their attention to growing and so that has benefitted our groups in terms of what we do to support gardeners but then also in terms of getting the word out that we do these two fundraisers twice a year to support local innovations such as the free food shed."

There's a high and constant demand for the food that's made available at the free food sheds of Helping Hands.

"Donations like this mean everything to Helping Hands," says its executive director Laura McDonald. "We are a registered charity working at a grassroots level in Cochrane, so when groups like the Horticultural Society choose Helping Hands, we get to take this $1,740 and turn it into food for the free food shed. It goes right back into Cochrane."

The horticultural society recently decided the proceeds from their September fundraiser will be donated to the Cochrane Activettes Food Bank. That sale focuses more on houseplants, perennials, and gardening supplies.

"We're supported well by Cochrane Home Treasures," she says. "They allow us to have some of their items that are gardening related, whether it's books, or decor or tools because they start downsizing those types of things in the fall."

Many others help to make the sales possible. They also give thanks to the Anything Grows Cochrane Garden Centre, Branched Out Nursery, Little Daisy Florals, and the Cochrane Public Library.

Dottor-Cena says the horticultural society has 66 members, the highest ever, and it's still early in the season.

"We're really excited to have people who know a lot about gardening and they're really excited to help others learn more about gardening."

Jesse Pepin, assistant director of the Cochrane Public Library, says they have a tremendous partnership with the horticultural society and are thrilled to host their two fundraisers. In exchange, members of the society volunteer to tend to the library's gardens.

Pepin says they welcome more volunteers to tend to the gardens, whether it's a small or large time commitment. She says it is tailored to the availability of the volunteers.

The library grounds include a mixture of veggie beds, annuals, perennials, and fruit trees.

To connect with the library staff and learn more about their wide range of services, visit here or drop by the library.