We have been able to provide our program participants with an incredible location to study in each week —the Start Fresh Kitchen — which is a source of consistent and long-term funding for the Project, as the farm’s produce is purchased directly by the Kitchen. Telus Community Grants has provided us the ability to sustainably employ our Program Co-ordinator to continue her work with our participants and strengthen our community partnerships through the winter. The Central Okanagan Foundation stepped forward late in the year and provided essential funding to continue the efforts of our community awareness initiatives and work towards our second program enrolment for Spring 2018. And certainly, our partnerships through Third Space Life Charity and Third Space Coffee have allowed for many beautifully aligned community partnerships to form, and our participants to thrive. Most recently, Trinity Baptist Church has offered to provide support through their annual Christmas fundraising. Special thanks also to seed money.org, Kelowna’s local Acro-Jam Yoga community, and to each and every individual who has donated or supported us along the way, via your mentorship or by attending one of our regularly scheduled dinners at The Kitchen.
It was a Year of True Growth
The donations have gone a long way to building the full year-long curriculum that is the basis for the Start Fresh Project’s CAFE program. They were also used to create our teaching farm where we grew over 1000 lbs of produce, raising over $3,000 for the project. We learned a lot about our land and what it loves to grow, and in 2018 we expect that number to triple. The farm was supported by 16 amazing volunteers throughout the season for an average of 15 hours each, totalling 240 hours of farm work donated. Between the kitchen and farm, we employed 15 people in our food service and farming initiatives. In our community classes we taught 156 people about healthy eating, and enrolled 9 individuals ready to change their lives in our pilot CAFE Program. And here’s a wow - at over 50 dinners at our Kitchen, we hosted 1000 guests, and catered over 100 events feeding 2500 in adjacent office towers and elsewhere.
During the first four months of the CAFE Program, participants receive weekly training on all aspects of cooking and farming, and they are able to build their resume skill-set by providing them with a strong theory-base and practical certifications, including:
FoodSafe, Level I - The gold standard of food service industry accreditationss, covering safe food handling, storage, and rotation practices;
Serving It Right™ - BC’s mandatory course educating food service employees about their legal responsibilities when serving alcohol;
Kelowna Fire Department - Fire Suppression Training, for use in both farm and kitchen safety;
AgSafe BC - on-site farm safety training, providing training on proper equipment use, animal handling, WHMIS awareness, and self-care on the farm.