Why a community kitchen? Don’t we already have restaurants? The answer, of course, is that this is to compare apples and oranges. Restaurants are for dining out, whether alone or in company. But for islanders coming together, especially in large numbers, to share a meal communally, requires a multi-purpose community kitchen.
The Commons community kitchen has been in the works awhile but is now coming together at an increasing pace. Ready for the Fall Fair is probably an optimistic wish but ready for the Winter Holiday Season is considered a realistic goal by the dedicated team of enthusiasts and kitchen stewards who are planning the use of the facility when completed.
As with our Community Health Care Clinic, there have been substantial donations of labour, money, and materials. Camp Miriam, for instance, donated a full range of commercial kitchen equipment. Grants from the Nanaimo Community Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation, a large donation from an anonymous donor and a generous donation of time by JC Plumbing have all contributed to ensure completion. Contributions through use of the Village Food Market card have brought in over $5000 to date. There is also what Judith Roux describes as a major ongoing volunteer effort by many individuals coming to the weekly workbees to see the project through.
Ingenuity is clearly at work in this project. When the Nanaimo Zellers went out of business, the resourceful kitchen team scored an enormous commercial range hood and hauled it back to Gabriola. Donated alpaca wool (non-inflammable) will be used to help insulate the kitchen building. Using food grown in the existing adjacent kitchen garden, the kitchen will serve Commons events such as the Spring and Fall Fairs. It will also be available for rent to individuals and groups who need a commercially approved kitchen to prepare their own food items for sale offsite. This will help stimulate small local food-based businesses.
Plans for the fully wheel-chair accessible kitchen include an apple crusher and juicer; large and small scale fruit dehydrators; and a cool room for fruit, cheese, etc. Complete separation of meat and vegetable preparation and cooking areas in the spacious kitchen will reassure vegetarians that their food will not be affected by carnivorous activities.
The kitchen will also function as a teaching facility for such things as food safety courses and cooking classes in a variety of ethnic dishes (including, one hopes, “the bangers and mash me muvver used to make”).
The community kitchen construction team, and the stewards team who will oversee its operation upon completion, are to be congratulated for enhanciing our island with this great new community facility