Hope Blooms… and Food Helps

Geir and I were lucky enough to attend a dinner at the North End Community Health Centre last week. This resulted from an impromptu invitation from Local Connections magazine owner, Alex Henden, with whom we sat at the dinner. His wife and daughter accompanied him – and the five of us were surprised and touched by what we experienced that night.

We learned about Hope Blooms, which is a community food bank-esque project in the north end of Halifax. The program is more than just about giving food to families who need it, though, it’s about teaching children responsibility, purpose, hard work, healthy eating, accountability and, of course, hope.

A group of children work, under the guidance of some project leaders from the North End Community Health Centre, to tend to a communal neighbourhood garden. You may have seen it before while driving on Brunswick street, near what is known as Uniacke Square; the area is actually called Warrington Park. This has been going on for five years.

Along with character and skill development for the at-risk youth who tend to the garden, and using ingredients from the garden for community dinners, in 2010 Hope Blooms began producing salad dressings. These are sold at the Seaport Farmers’ Market and through other channels. The last two years they’ve sold out of product within the first week.

The reason for the community dinner last week was to host Catherine from Community Food Centres Canada – a member of the deciding committee on which lucky community in Halifax may get a new food centre – to be exact.

The volunteer chef was Drew Rudderham from Acton’s Grill and Cafe in Wolfville. We had a lovely meal made from amazing produce from the Hope Blooms garden: Summer gazpacho, lobster risotto with salad, and blueberry panna cotta.

We also had the pleasure of watching community members sing songs, see an art project be unveiled, and meet some junior leaders from the program.

Then, we got to experience the pre-gardening circle with the children in the program and other community members, and see the kids get to work! What an amazing evening…

Keep an eye out for the next issue of Local Connections Halifax if you want to know even more!

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