CAN (ON): Can one child feed the world?

Can one child feed the world? Perhaps not, but a few special individuals can inspire one to want to.

Allison Chartrand Hayes, known to her family and friends as Allie Sunshine, was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour on her pancreas in 2002 and acute myeloid leukaemia in 2014. Always grateful for every moment, she inspired those around her to see and appreciate the beauty around them. She passed in 2015 and her family and friends came together to form The Allie Sunshine Project in her honour. Their first initiative was to build The Allie Sunshine Healing Garden. The garden, located on family property in Lakeshore, became a refuge and a place of growth.

The Allie Sunshine Project has grown to include community outreach about health and wellness. During a talk at a local elementary school by Jeremy Hayes Technical Sales Rep for Plant Products, Allison’s husband, about growing your own food, 7 year-old Karson Gervais, was inspired.

He came home and told his parents all about the talk by “Farmer Al” and the Healing Garden. Matt Gervais, Karson’s Dad, remembers Karson’s excitement.

“The garden is in our neighbourhood so we went for a bike ride to check it out. Lynn, Allie’s mother-in-law, was outside and we had a great tour. Karson was so excited by it that we began to propagate seeds at home for him to have a potted garden on the porch.”

That began Karson’s love affair with growing and sharing the fruits of his labour with the world.

“He loves taking care of the plants, always watering them before he goes to bed and he wants to open his own produce stand at the end of the driveway,” says Gervais. “All he wanted for his first communion was an “Open” sign for the stand.”

Karson lives the mission of The Allie Sunshine Project: to inspire a community of wellness explorers through creating and participating in projects in Windsor and Essex County that nurture self-healing and capture learning opportunities for bodies, minds and spirits.

Learning and wellness were core values to Allison, an elementary school teacher. Her legacy is being carried on in talks at schools, like the one Karson attended and through the group’s annual plant sale and give away.

The garden event, in its 4th year, receives its veggie, herb and fruit transplants through a generous donation from One Floral Group’s Leamington location. The company’s guiding principles of different, better and special are a natural fit for The Allie Sunshine Project’s core purpose of igniting learning and wellness.

Both vegetable and flowering plants are available at the sale which is held in The Healing Garden on May 19th and 20th. The public is encouraged to come by to receive and purchase plants, as well as enjoy the atmosphere of the healing garden. Other community garden groups have joined forces in the past and many social organizations have benefited from the generosity of One Floral and the dedication of The Allie Sunshine volunteers.

“It never quite turns out like what we expected,” says Matt Gervais of Karson’s planting adventures, but isn’t that like life itself?

If you want to be inspired like Karson, to grow and share, join:

Saturday, May 19 & Sunday May 20, 2018
10am to 4pm
The Allie Sunshine Project
4th Annual Plant Sale & Giveaway
252 West Pike Creek Road, Lakeshore

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