I began my journey with London’s community gardens and the LCRC back in March when I met with Linda to discuss volunteering with Grow, Cook, Learn and the Fabulous Fall event coming up in October (further details to come!). I had no idea that I would be stepping into a world of new opportunities and a chance to explore London’s Community Gardens and meet a variety of new people – some of whom I learn about in school!
Coming from a food and nutrition background, having studied nutritional sciences at both the University of Guelph and Brescia University College, it is rewarding to be able to help gardeners get situated and begin growing their own fresh, local, and healthy food whether it be to stretch their grocery dollar or to contribute to a more sustainable food system. At Brescia, we are taught about how the increasing travel distance our food takes from farm to table is not only hurting the environment, but it is causing many of us to lose that connection with our food. We begin to see eating as something we have to squeeze in between meetings or quickly after work before we dive into our extracurricular activities or those of our kids. London’s community gardens give Londoners a chance to rekindle that relationship with food and bring them back to the basics of eating fresh, locally grown, whole foods.
The Grow, Cook, Learn program, which I am so lucky to be a part of, gives members of our community the opportunity to get in the garden and become familiar with how food is grown, harvest that food, and then step in to the kitchen and actually make themselves a fresh, delicious, and nutritious meal. Participants develop skills to use at home and the program allows them to share what they have learned with neighbors and family members, giving them confidence and a sense of pride in what they have accomplished.
Last Wednesday (May 29th) Linda, Dianne and I kicked off the season with a Youth in the Garden session with North Park Youth Group at the Church of the Ascension just east of Argyle Mall. The evening started out in the garden and the kids were able to get their hands dirty, without getting in trouble! They learned how to perform the worm test for soil health, planted some carrot seeds, and even dug some holes and planted some potatoes. The kids were engaged and the participation was incredible. Linda and I were pleased with how much the kids enjoyed learning about the garden. The garden session ended with the kids harvesting and tasting some fresh Rhubarb and, judging by their facial expressions, they found it quite tart! In the kitchen we tasted some warm Rhubarb Crisp, prepared by Dianne, and the kids loved it! The night allowed the kids to see how Rhubarb can be grown in the garden, harvested, and then made into a delicious dessert. Linda, Dianne, and I had a blast and we are confident the North Park Youth Group did too! It is such a good feeling to have the season kicked off successfully!
I am looking forward to my first Grow, Cook, Learn season. I can’t wait to meet you all.