About

About The Organization

During a crisp, fall day in 2013, We Grow Food was planted in the hearts of a small group of local food enthusiasts and urban farmers. This seed, which started as an awareness of increasing food insecurity in underserved neighbourhoods in Oshawa, has grown into an organization that has built and manages 6 community gardens, has built 35 private gardens all while educating and empowering the community about how to grow food and live sustainably in an urban setting. In 2019 We Grow Food harvested 25,000 lbs of food – and gave it all away for free!

We Grow Food;
Contributes to a resilient local food system by growing fresh produce that is accessible to all.
Creates inclusive communities where everyone’s voice, gift, skill and talent is important.
Believes in full-circle giving where everyone has the dignity to give and receive.
Promotes “no waste” & “enoughness” as guiding principles
Values life-long, hands-on learning partnered with community involvement.

We Grow Food believes that everyone, regardless of age, gender, economic status, abilities, ethnicity and personal beliefs has the right to access healthy, fresh, locally-grown produce!


Carol Vandersanden

About Our Directors:

Carol Vandersanden

Carol Vandersanden has been a local entrepreneur for over 38 years, studied business at Ryerson and opened an event and catering company complete with a 500 seat conference center. Her life as a chef has kept her close to the local sustainable food sources. Carol has been growing her own food for over 25 years with a harvest of 2500lb of food on her front lawn. Eight years ago, wrote and produced a film called “Experiments in My Vegetable Patch” where other urban farmers were interviewed about why they grow their own food. Six years ago, Carol, and six other urban farmers began We Grow Food and since inception have installed over 28 gardens throughout Oshawa, (23 private kitchen gardens and 5 neighbourhood gardens, created and taught over 40 programs in the gardens as well as the Seed Saving and Salsa Program which is done at The Durham District School Board, Oshawa Public Library (How to in 10 Minutes), Local Oshawa Seniors Centers, and local gardens. Carol speaks at UOIT, Durham College, Schools in the DDSB, CAS, Rotary Clubs, Power of Women Groups, Chamber of Commerce not only about what We Grow Food is all about but the importance of bringing some of our education outside of four walls. Carol believes that hands on education about our food source, how to grow food and how to prepare healthy meals is basic life skill
that everyone should know. Volunteering with We Grow Food for the past six years, is now looking to take
We Grow food to the next level sharing the over 35 years of experience with as many groups and individuals
as possible.


Michelle Perry

Michelle Perry

Michelle started her career as a Child and Youth Worker working in foster homes, group homes, and as a pier
support at schools in the DDSB. Her area of focus is working with “at risk” youth. Her experience with youth
has been an asset to We Grow Food as we engage with Lakeridge Adolescent Outpatient and Youth Justice demographics. Michelle has been a volunteer and program leader with We Grow Food for the past two and a half years. Michelle manages all the Social Media Platforms & heads up the garden’s maintenance with the seasonal volunteers.

Debbie Porter

Debbie resides in Oshawa and after active career with over 30 years working in the public sector, she is now
retired and currently serves as a volunteer and Board Member for We Grow Food. Volunteering with Habitat
for Humanity provided her with clear direction of giving back to her own community. Debbie’s career encompassed over 15 years of senior management experience in the Payroll, Pension and Employee Benefit field working for the City of Toronto. As a senior leader she was responsible for developing strategic direction and vision, ensuring corporate goals and values were upheld including confidentiality and privacy of information, ethical behavior, diversity and service excellence. She provided leadership and guidance to a team of 50+, ensuring proper business and
system processes and controls were in place to meet corporate policy, contractual, legislative and regulated
requirements.  Her strong sense of community and commitment inspired her to get involved in ab grass roots organization.

Howard Smith

Szanne Mcnutt

Sara Copley

Marie Mathew


We would like to recognize that we are situated on the Traditional Territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, governed by the Williams Treaties. We are grateful to work and learn on these lands, and are mindful of this treaty relationship with the Mississaugas of Scugog Island and the greater Anishinaabeg Nation of which they form a part, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa, and Pottawatomi peoples.