On Sunday, May 13, Tucker House Renewal Centre welcomed the public to a Mother’s Day Open House, with activities and information, and a focus on getting community feedback for its collective kitchen concept, which it has been developing thanks to a $31,000 Seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in June 2017.
Tucker House is a place of educational environmental programs and a historic retreat centre with programs and space for community to learn about sustainable living. The idea of forming a collective kitchen – where people come together to cook and share meals — is a natural fit for an organization that has organic gardens, experienced educators, and a beautiful gathering space for learning. But the question was: what kind of collective kitchen will work best for this community? Over the past nine months, Tucker House has been gathering local input from community groups, surveys, focus groups, and public information sessions to find out who would be most interested: parents wishing to prepare meals in advance, seniors wishing to cook and socialize, or individuals looking for recipes to save money and try new ingredients? With this input, Tucker House staff have worked on a community kitchen model to suit the needs. Guests at Sunday’s open house were encouraged to add their input while enjoying samples of healthy food and exploring the mansion and nature trails.
Board members and volunteers shared information about other Tucker House programs, such as their July nature camp, upcoming outdoor education conference, Green Gala fundraiser, and next steps for making the collective kitchen a reality. Representatives from local partner groups were invited to celebrate the research and recommendations being made.
“Food has always been a focus of Tucker House educational programs, from our first volunteer organic gardens to our heirloom seed-saving demonstrations. We thank the Ontario Trillium Foundation for giving us the opportunity to develop a new model for our community members where we can share learning through food education programs. A collective kitchen means saving money, learning new skills, saving time on food preparation, trying new tastes and cooking techniques, and building community through socializing. It is also a perfect way to learn to use local, organic produce for healthy meals and reduce our impact on the environment. Cooking is the easiest way to help yourself and the planet”, said Nathalie Mathieu, Community Coordinator and Collective Kitchen Project Coordinator.
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- Tucker House Renewal Centre is a charitable retreat and environmental learning centre that promotes sustainable living. The rental and retreat facility is a Confederation-era Georgian-style mansion with 30 acres of diverse habitat, with nature trails, seed-saving gardens, and more.
- Programs for the local and wider community include environmental education for school groups and new teachers, outdoor summer camps, seed-saving garden, annual Green Gala, and much more. Visit Maison Tucker House for more information.
- An agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities.