More than a century and a half ago the fertile lands adjoining Mission Creek produced crops that sustained the first settlers in Kelowna on the Pandosy Mission. This soil continues to produce vegetable crops that are added to the diet of those in need in our city, thanks to the efforts of members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul at St. Charles Garnier Parish on Benvoulin Road adjoining the historic Pandosy Mission.
Each year for the last ten years a small team of volunteers has tilled the soil and planted vegetable crops that, once raised and harvested, are donated to the Kelowna Community Food Bank, the Gospel Mission, and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to benefit the needy. The 2015 Harvest in total weighed in at 5,708 pounds – 490 pounds of beets, 398 pounds of carrots, 2,546 pounds of zucchini squash, 1358 pounds of spaghetti squash, 481 pounds of butternut squash, and 425 pounds of buttercup squash. Rounding out the harvest was 10 pounds of potatoes – not a banner year for the mighty spud!
Recipients of this bounty of the soil were the Food Bank at 4,449 pounds, the Gospel Mission at 1,146 pounds, and the St Charles Conference of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul received 113 pounds of vegetables for inclusion in food hampers.
Using an estimated retail value of $1.25 per pound, this results in an estimated $7,135.00 shelf value. The four volunteers headed up by Gerry contributed a total of 146 hours of labour this season.
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul at Charles Garnier Parish in southeast Kelowna celebrated its 25th anniversary of service to those in need, regardless of race, creed, gender, or age or any other limiting factors. The Society is supported completely by the generous donations of its parishioners.
The Society is represented in Rutland by St Theresa’s, in north Kelowna at St Pius X, in the city central by Immaculate Conception parish, and on the Westside by Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. By far the largest branch, known as a Conference, are the combined parishes of St Ann’s and St John’s in Penticton – 400 hampers in an average month.
The Society had its origin in Paris in 1833 when a group of seven young students at the University of Sorbonne were challenge to show their faith by charitable actions. Their numbers grew quickly in France, Great Britain, and Ireland. A Dr. Joseph Painchaud who had studied at the Sorbonne started the first branch of the Society in Canada in Quebec City in 1846. The first Toronto Conference started in 1851 at St. Michael’s Cathedral, under the leadership of George Manly Muir, a circuit court judge. The Society moved westward to British Columbia when it started in Vancouver in 1912, followed shortly thereafter on Vancouver Island.
The Society can be found in 150 countries worldwide and more than 800,000 members are proud to be called Vincentians, named after the patron saint of charitable works, Saint Vincent de Paul.