Local husband and wife partner with Prince Albert businesses to raise funds for Jessy’s Garden

Bonny Sanderson works in one of the greenhouses at Jessy’s Garden. -- Herald File Photo

Local families are invited to Dufresne Furniture on Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, 11, and 18 from 1 pm to 4 pm for a special Christmas event in support of Jessy’s Garden, with by-donation Santa photos offered by M-Edge Photography and coffee, hot chocolate and treats for all of Santa’s visitors supplied by Dr. Java’s Coffee House.

The professional digital photos taken during the event will be sent through email, with all donations going towards the seeds to begin the memorial community garden’s 2023 season.

Michelle Persaud with M-Edge Photography said the idea to put on Pictures with Santa came after her and her husband, Greg, began going to Jessy’s Garden over the summer and were inspired by all they do for the Prince Albert community.

“(Owners) Bonny and Mel (Sanderson) have to be the kindest people we’re ever met,” said Michelle. “Seeing them with school groups and that kind of thing, it made us want to do more to help them.”

Michelle said Jessy’s Garden is like Christmas all year ‘round. The Sandersons are all about giving to those in need; something Persaud and her husband wanted to pay forward.

“They’re absolutely amazing people and what they’re doing for our community is unbelievable, the amount of work they have to put in every year to make that garden grow. The labour is intense, but they keep doing it year after year,” Michelle said.

As the manager of Dufresne Furniture, Greg said it was a no-brainer partnership as both the business and Jessy’s Garden are about making life better. After stumbling across the garden over the summer and chatting with the Sandersons, Greg and Michelle learned about Mel and Bonny’s countless hours working at the garden, all for a great cause.

“Being a newer brand in the Prince Albert area, we’re more than happy to do whatever it is we can to help the community out,” said Greg. “We love being part of the community and outside of this being a great opportunity for Jessy’s Garden, at the same time I think it’s equally beneficially to showcase what Dufresne is about.”

In an interview with the Herald on Tuesday, Bonny said after the Persauds approached her and her husband in the fall about raising money for Jessy’s Garden, they were all for it.

“Michelle and Greg did everything, they’ve been totally amazing,” she said. “We’re so grateful for these businesses that support us because Michelle and Greg have put so much time and energy and love into this project.”

She said her and Mel can’t wait to see the Jessy’s Garden family one more time before the holidays and watch the excitement Santa will bring to the kids.

“We’re looking forward to seeing so many happy little faces and we’re hoping they’re going to be happy when they see Santa,” Bonny said.

Jessy’s Garden is a memorial community garden located 20 km east of Prince Albert on Highway 302 East. They make fresh, locally grown, pesticide free produce that is affordable for everyone, regardless of income level. The garden is run by husband-and-wife team, Bonny and Mel, in honour of their late daughter, Jessy-Leigh, who passed away in 2008.

According to their website, the couple purchased the four-acre farmland property in 2009 and every year, along with a team of volunteers, plant a wide variety of produce and donate thousands of pounds of organically grown food to the homeless and those less fortunate, all in memory of Jessy.

Those that can afford it are asked to pay only $12.50 a bag, and those who can’t are asked to join their hand-up program to exchange volunteer hours for their produce. For the six months of the year the garden runs, all money generated from sales goes directly back into purchasing equipment, fuel, and anything else needed to keep the garden going.

Over the past summer, Jessy’s Garden was able to bless the James Smith Cree Nation with a donation of over a 1000 pounds of produce to help feed the community. Along with a team of 21 volunteers including the Persauds, Bonny and Mel were able to clean, package and ship vegetables from the garden to the First Nation to help make the cooks’ jobs easier.