The Cranbrook Food Recovery Program and Farm Kitchen will soon be moving to a new location alongside the Cranbrook Food Bank.
The Community Connections Society of BC, which operates the Farm Kitchen, Food Recovery Program and Public Produce Garden, recently received a $70,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust. The funds will be used to install a new commercial kitchen, as well as create perennial gardens, establish a network of gardening volunteers and expand food recovery operations.
As the Townsman reported last week, the Cranbrook Food Bank officially opened their new location on Industrial Rd. 2 on April 7th. The Food Recovery Program and Farm Kitchen have partnered with the Food Bank and will also soon be moving to this new location.
Meredith Funston runs all three of the programs under Community Connections, and she says that the CBT grant will help to increase food security in Cranbrook.
“This is such a big summer for us, this grant is huge for these programs,” Funston said. “The receipt of this Food Access and Recovery Grant means both the Farm Kitchen and Food Recovery programs can move to the new location. That will allow us to streamline our processes, expand our farmer network, and the new commercial kitchen will benefit us by allowing us to process more food.”
Food Recovery and the Food Bank already work closely together and Funston says the new partnership is a perfect fit.
The Food Recovery program works with local businesses and community groups to re-distribute food that would otherwise end up in the landfill. The program diverts food to farmers as well, who then use it for animal feed.
The Farm Kitchen also provides a space for local Farmers Market vendors to be able to prepare and store their food in an inspected kitchen, which is a requirement of selling.
Funston says the move will take place over the next month or so, and that they are looking forward to sharing the space with the Food Bank.
“We will be sad to leave the other space; it was a beautiful spot and it has been wonderful to be so centrally located,” Funston said. “But the benefits are so clear.”
Funston says that having a new commercial kitchen means they can take marginal food and turn it into snacks and meals that will get distributed to the community.
“For example, we get a lot of bananas through food recovery. We will be able to take food, like bananas, and turn it into healthy snacks such as smoothie popsicles, which can be distributed to the school programs,” Funston explained. “One side benefit as well, is that food recovery currently occupies a lot of the kitchen space. The food bank has agreed to let us share their space to process food recovery, which means we will have a lot more kitchen space available.”
There is also a plan in the works to install a perennial garden along the fence at the new location.
“There is already a six-foot, chain link fence installed which is ideal. It won’t keep all of the animals out, but it will surely help. The Food Bank has agreed to allow us to install a garden on the three foot margin along the fence. We want to grow perennials, as opposed to annuals that need to be re-planted each year. We plan on getting raspberry bushes, currants, perhaps a few fruit trees as well,” said Funston, adding that there will be more to come, including a food literacy program and workshops.
“This site could be such a beautiful, food producing space in the next few years,” she said. “Community groups can make really good use of that food. We’ll also be taking some divisions; propagating from the current public produce garden, as well as reaching out to the community. If anyone has any rhubarb they are doing away with, or currant bushes they can split up, we would love to have donations.”
The programs are partnering with JCI Kootenay in order to establish a network of volunteers.
Shonna Murphy of JCI Kootenay says they are happy to be part of this new endeavour.
“Our members at JCI Kootenay believe in the importance of creating positive change within our community. When we find like-minded people, like the team at Cranbrook Food Recovery, we look for ways to help support them,” said Murphy. “We provide our best support with boots on the ground efforts, and will help Cranbrook Food Recovery with the building of the new perennial garden at the Farm Kitchen location.”
She adds that JCI is always looking for volunteers and anyone interested in volunteering can visit their website at JCIKootenay.com.
“We’re so thankful to the community for their ongoing support,” said Funston. “We’re grateful to the food bank for already being an amazing partner – and we’re really looking forward to continuing to grow that relationship. Last but not least, thank you to CBT.”
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