KAWARTHA LAKES – The Kawartha Lakes Food Source Community Kitchen has grown a green thumb and participants will now have access to fresh vegetables, locally grown, all year round.
According to Kawartha Lakes Food Source, KLFS, the new initiative is part of the Community Kitchen program, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed Grant.
KLFS has planted two aeroponic tower gardens that will provide fresh produce to use in the Community Kitchen’s cooking classes and Collective Kitchen. The aeroponic gardens will provide the Community Kitchen with regular access to fresh produce.
“Watching the plants go from seeds, to seedlings, and now almost able eat has been a fascinating process for us all at KLFS,” says Emma Wood, Community Kitchen Coordinator.
Wood has an undergraduate degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and experience working in various gardens but has never grown soilless before.
The community kitchen provides clients of the Lindsay Community Food Market, a non-traditional food bank owned and operated by KLFS, an opportunity to become more engaged in the community while strengthening their food literacy.
Clients will be enabled to increase their abilities to use ingredients to prepare healthy, affordable meals, and understand the economic, social, and environmental benefits of doing so, said KLFS.
By hosting cooking classes, facilitating a Collective Kitchen, and providing opportunities for safe food handling training, the program was designed to improve the food skills, budgeting, sustainability, and employability of participants.
The cooking class portion of the program operates in courses which are five weeks long each. In these sessions, KLFS staff and volunteers provide the ingredients and coaching to make one meal each week.
Each course offers a different theme such as cooking for one, cooking with kids, vegetarian cooking, and cooking with limited equipment. The team is optimistic that these classes will provide opportunity for conversations on meal planning, meal budgeting, how to source affordable nutritious food, and how to substitute food items in recipes.
With the Community Kitchen program, KLFS also launched a Collective Kitchen, another opportunity for clients of the Lindsay Community Food Market to prepare meals together.
According to KLFS, a portion of those meals made are distributed amongst those who prepared it, and a portion will also be put into inventory of the food bank for other community members to enjoy.
And now with the new aeroponic tower gardens, clients and participants will have access to healthy options such as Dino Kale, Lettuce, Arugula, Rainbow Chard, and Basil.
“We plan to use the produce grown to give to clients participating in the cooking classes, to use as a side salad to go along with the meals we make virtually each week,” said Wood.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air and mist environment rather than soil. The aeroponic system uses water, liquid nutrients, and a soilless growing medium to grow nutritious produce quickly and efficiently.
To start the growing process, you place seeds in rockwool, soilless growing medium, to germinate and wait three to four weeks to allow them to sprout into seedlings. Once sprouted, seedlings are transplanted directly into each net pot of the tower garden. Once seedlings are planted, the tower garden is set on two timers, one that controls the flow of water and another that controls the LED lights.
According to KLFS, research has shown that aeroponic systems grow plants three times faster and produce 30 per cent greater yields on average. The gardens also boast a vertical, compact design and closed-loop technology, requiring as little as 10 per cent of the land and water that traditional growing methods use.
For more information on the Community Kitchen program, please contact 705-324-0707 or [email protected].