The Nelson Women’s Centre is the oldest women’s centre in rural Canada, and works towards serving a variety of needs in the community of Nelson. From promoting women in the trades, to social enterprise initiatives, to offering resourceful and affordable programs, the Nelson Women’s Centre is striving to build a healthy community by playing a positive role in the lives of women.
A recent program of the Centre, My Grandmother’s Kitchen, began this year and welcomes women into the community kitchen for a fun, educational, empowering cooking experience. Jennifer Gawne, of Wild Peach Preserves, is an herbalist, gardener and cook, and is passionate about sharing the nourishing and healing qualities of food and herbs with her community. Jennifer was hired by the Centre to fulfill a one year Food Security Coordinator contract, with the main focus of her job being the My Grandmother’s Kitchen project. The Nelson Women’s Centre has undergone a large renovation in the past year, with much of it happening in their community kitchen. The kitchen space has become beautiful and functional, and Jennifer has worked hard to ensure it is stocked with everything the My Grandmother’s Kitchen project requires.
My Grandmother’s Kitchen originally began with a vision to connect senior women with each other and other women by sharing their skills and recipes, as a way to build community and come together in the kitchen. The initial goal of the project was to offer 20 instructional cooking classes throughout the year, however the project will likely offer closer to 30 classes in the end, as interest and attendance in the classes has been quite successful. Jennifer says, “Everyone seems to be enjoying the classes, and people have even begun to feed me ideas for what they’d like to see next. Having dinner with other ladies is really nice, it’s a warm atmosphere with really positive people. Each workshop has different dynamics in terms of activity – from pounding cabbage into jars to ferment, to a more sit-down approach of listening – and folks are enjoying the interaction. We visit, we get to know each other, and we cook together. It’s a really positive experience.”
The original intent of the project was to run the duration of the one year Food Security Coordinator contract, but Jennifer believes My Grandmother’s Kitchen will continue past the contract, and exist for years to come. The Nelson Women’s Centre has other self-sustaining projects, and the goal is to build this as a self-sustaining educational kitchen project as well.
My Grandmother’s Kitchen aims to source locally grown and produced food. The project began with a donation from the Kootenay Co-op, and has most recently purchased cabbage from Crooked Horn Farm (Winlaw) for the ‘Fermentation Fundamentals’ series, and a sheep from Root and Vine Acres (Creston) for the ‘Greek Food: Lambs, Lemon and Love’ class. Some other past classes include an Animal Butchery Weekend Workshop, Food Preserving 101, and Sweet Potato Burger + Veggie Burger Recipe Swap.
In the next few months, expect to see more exciting classes from My Grandmother’s Kitchen including themes like ‘comfort food on a budget’, ‘traditional Christmas cookies’, and ‘the tricks of making Pho’. Workshop fees are typically $5, which includes dinner and childcare if needed.
Come join an upcoming My Grandmother’s Kitchen event, and enjoy a wonderful sense of community, an exciting learning experience, and delicious food!
To stay informed of upcoming classes, join the Nelson Women’s Centre on Facebook (and stay tuned – there is a My Grandmother’s Kitchen Facebook page in the works!).
Find more details, and a full event calendar at www.nelsonwomenscentre.com.
To register for any class, or if you have questions, please email Jennifer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written By: Miche Warwick, Kootenay Food Communications Liaison
Photo Credit: Jennifer Gawne, My Grandmother’s Kitchen Project