ERIN – A community fridge and freezer will soon be installed in front of Centre 2000, offering a place for people to pick up fresh food 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The community fridge is organized by From Seed to Plate, a community food project in Erin organized by Abel Page and Jen Edwards.
They hope the fridge will be set up by the end of February, and will be filled with vegetables, fruits, soups, and other foods that people can help themselves to – free of charge, no questions asked.
Page, the project lead, said From Seed to Plate was sparked by a $5,000 grant from Our Food Future Guelph Wellington and has three primary focuses:
- combatting food insecurity by empowering people to grow their own food and providing free food for the community;
- reducing food waste by teaching people how to prepare and preserve the food they grow, and offering a way to share food surplus; and
- encouraging environmentalism by teaching people how to grow food gardens instead of lawns.
Last year From Seed to Plate offered eight free workshops, including planting seeds, gardening, foraging, canning and cooking.
A total of 74 people participated in the classroom workshops and 18 in the cooking workshops.
Edwards said through the workshops they are trying to increase food security and empower people to follow the whole process, from seed to plate.
“A lot of the times you might grow something,” she said, “but then how does it actually get onto your plate?”
The cooking workshops are taught in a certified kitchen by a certified food handler, which means the food prepared during workshops can be donated to the community fridge.
From Seed to Plate officials hope to host the first community cooking session of 2024 by the end of February, to make soup to put in the community freezer.
Page said there are important guidelines for donating to the fridge, and From Seed to Plate will be offering an information session soon.
Home cooked meals cannot be donated to the fridge as cooked food must be prepared in a certified kitchen, but officials encourage people to donate homegrown vegetables or nutritious store-bought food that is not expired.
Edwards said they are looking for businesses to partner with “that will give us food that they are not going to sell at the end of the day.”
From Seed to Plate is also seeking volunteers to stock and check on the community fridge – for more information about volunteering email email@example.com or visit campsite.bio/erinseedtoplate.
“We are extremely grateful,” Page said. “A lot of people have come forward to help with the fridge.
“In particular the Erin Firefighter Association has been providing financial support,” he noted, as well as other organizations in the community.
“The volunteer firefighters are giving us $1,000,” Edwards said. “That will help pay for the fridge.”
Initially From Seed to Plate aimed to find a good secondhand fridge, she said, but it looks like they will purchase a new one instead.
Edwards and Page both said they are grateful to “finally” get approval from the Town of Erin for the fridge.
The challenge was finding a place for the fridge, Edwards said, on a town site, so that the town would pay for the Hydro.
It will be located under the alcove on the arena side outside of Centre 2000, Edwards said.
“You don’t have to go inside the building to access it,” and there is no registration or application process, you just come and take what you need or leave what you can.
Edwards said this offers a way for people to receive support accessing food without having to come forward to request support in a more official manner.
On March 2 From Seed to Plate is hosting a workshop called Kickstart your Garden taught by Mark Gorski, at which participants will learn about starting their own vegetable gardens.