Chatham-Kent farmers are well known for their generosity and famous for going above and beyond when called upon for help. These facts are only reinforced when the owners of 7 Farms Down, located just outside of Merlin, took it upon themselves to pay for, plant, and grow an acre of sweet corn to be donated to over a dozen non-profit organizations across the community through the Chatham-Kent Public Health Gleaning Project.
“We had the idea back in March when we realized that we were likely not going to be able to get our cannabis crop in the ground for 2020. It seemed like a good opportunity to turn our challenging situation into a positive one for the community,” said Jason Guttridge, 7 Farms Down Inc. “We planted 25,000 seeds, have grown them organically, and are now harvesting hundreds of dozens of corn to help people in Chatham-Kent.”
The first of several rounds of harvesting started this week thanks to 15 Public Health volunteers who attended the morning picking session.
“The producers in Chatham-Kent are very generous and we couldn't do the Gleaning Project without their support. We are always happy to help get extra produce into the hands of those agencies and community supports that can use it,” said Lyndsay Davidson with Chatham-Kent Public Health. “The opportunity to glean the corn today helps so many in our community and I greatly appreciate the owners’ donation.”
Sweet corn from the harvest has been provided to 15 agencies across Chatham-Kent including soup kitchens, seniors centres, women’s and men’s shelters, and food banks. The corn will then be distributed to people and families in need.
“7 Farms Down is another great example of how the business owners in Chatham-Kent do more than just invest and create jobs, they genuinely care about the community and for the people who live here,” said Rosemarie Montgomery with Chatham-Kent Economic Development. “We grow a wonderful supply of fresh fruit and vegetables in our region; we feed the world. However, sometimes there are people in our own backyards who face barriers to accessing that food. This is why when private and public agencies collaborate they can move mountains.”
Once the corn harvesting is complete, 7 Farms Down expects to prepare the land for a winter cover crop to maintain the soil health.
“All of our applications are in, our facility is in great shape, and we’re just waiting to hear back on the licensing so we can begin planting cannabis in the spring. We expect to be in full operation for 2021,” said Guttridge. “We are also going to explore how we can continue to grow more corn or a similar crop to help the gleaning project next year.”
The 2020 season for the CK Gleaning Project is underway and CK Public Health is looking for any extra or leftover produce this season. Through CK Public Health, volunteers are able to help harvest and deliver the produce to local community groups and agencies that will use it to help our community. Farmers and producers interested in being a part of this free program can contact Lyndsay Davidson at 519-352-7270 ext. 2478 or email at
One hundred percent of 7 Farms Down crop is being donated to local charities and non-profits through the Chatham-Kent Gleaning Project. (left: Rosemarie Montgomery, centre: Jason Guttridge, right: Lyndsay Davidson)
Corn picked fresh by Gleaning Project volunteers and ready to be delivered to agencies across Chatham-Kent.
- All volunteers of the Gleaners Project receive safety training through the health unit, and are covered by the municipality volunteer policy for insurance purposes. They can come and harvest for you or if you already have it picked, they can pick it up and deliver it to the community agencies.
Marketing and Communications Officer
Economic Development Services, Community Development
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
124 Thames Street, Chatham, ON N7M 5K8