The first major building project on the Gabriola Commons was the Commons Community Kitchen. Once the extensive community gardens, orchard and farm team gardens were fenced, irrigated and planted, the logical next step in our agricultural planning was to create the means to process the agricultural produce and provide a facility benefitting the entire community.
Originally a cheese factory from earlier days as a goat farm, the 1200 sq.ft. building was gutted and rebuilt with a new roof, thicker walls and upgraded plumbing, gas and electrical infrastructure. This was accomplished almost entirely with volunteer labour and very generous donations, combined with a series of grants:
- an initial surprise donation from Camp Miriam of their entire kitchen equipment (from dishwasher to propane stoves to stainless steel counters!) moved by Arbutus Building Supply;
- a large start-up grant from the Nanaimo Community Foundation permitted us to upgrade the infrastructure;
- grants from the Vancouver Foundation and the federal Western Economic Diversification Programs covered the high cost of providing and installing technical equipment (ventilation and refrigeration) and the propane cooking elements;
- a second large grant from the Nanaimo Community Foundation covered the cost of a new septic system and field; and
- the Village Food Market and the Gabriola Auxiliary for Island Health Care Society provided funding for essential equipment (such as a large stock pot).
Completed in September 2016, the Kitchen is now managed by the volunteer Kitchen Stewards Team and available to individual chefs as well as groups (such as the Field to Table Feast).