Like most organizations in Nelson, the Nelson Community Food Centre has had to drastically alter programming to accommodate the realities of COVID-19. Physical distancing requirements meant they had to put their food skills, harvest rescue and garden programs on hold and concentrate all their efforts on their good food bank.
Ordinarily, program participants would be making connections around good food through things like the garden, community dinners, volunteer shifts and cooking classes for youth, adults, and families. With the global pandemic and the organization’s shift in focus to food distribution, all this had to change — but staff are striving to stay true to the centre’s mission.
As well as being in the early stages of putting some of their programs online to create the “connection” aspect that is so important, the new raised-bed garden is up and running and they are expecting their first harvest soon.
This is the first season for the community food centre garden outside the Nelson United Church on Silica Street.
“We are expecting some great things out of the garden this year. If you pass by, you can already see some greens popping up,” says Andrew Creighton, community relations manager at the centre.
Garden co-ordinator Dayna Jackson is working with a very small number of volunteers (while respecting physical distancing) and putting in an assortment of healthy veggies like kale, peas, beans, beats, cabbage, carrots and much, much more. These vegetables will soon be harvested and given out through the good food bank and used in various cooking classes (online and otherwise).
“We are excited about the start-up of the garden program. Having to focus so much of our energy on the good food bank has been necessary, but we really miss our volunteers and all of the folks who have joined our various cooking classes and community dinners over the years,” adds Creighton.
“Because so much of what we do is about offering environments where people can connect around sharing, growing, eating and learning about food, we’ve had to be creative and think of other ways to make these connections happen — and we are making some good progress.”
As well as a “Dinner’s on us” collaboration with local restaurants and a Treat of the Week from the good food bank, staff at the centre run a YouTube channel with cooking classes and stay connected with volunteers through regular Zoom calls. There’s also a virtual community dinner in the works and more collaboration with food-based organizations in the community. To learn more, visit nelsoncfc.ca or check out their Facebook page— and be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel.