Back in the spring of 2008, the Stewardship Group took on a new initiative. Consistent with Parkdale’s mission and values, we wanted to help in some small way to bless this wonderful community in which we are so fortunate to live. Inspired by a Canadian harvest sharing program and Anthony’s community gardening efforts with the New Monastic Christian group while on sabbatical in 2007, the Stewardship Group rented a garden plot where we grew vegetables to serve during the In From The Cold (IFTC) supper hospitality ministry last fall.
It was great team work, but there was a shortage of gardening volunteers. This year, in the absence of a vegetable garden, the Stewardship Group again wanted to give back to our brothers and sisters in the community. Thus, the Harvest Helpers initiative was conceived. And so, we decided to partner with “Chef Extraordinaire” Clay Cardillo, manager and co-owner of Jack Astor’s Restaurant in the Kanata sector of Ottawa. For several years now, Clay has continued to bless the IFTC ministry and guests with his wonderful cooking skills.
I do not use the expression “Chef Extraordinaire” lightly. Clay recently took part in a culinary competition in Toronto where he won a bronze medal (third place among approximately 50 different competitors). Warmest congratulations to you, Clay!
This year’s Harvest Helpers initiative took place in two segments, on August 29 and September 19. On August 29, Clay and a group of Parkdale volunteers chopped, blanched and preserved a dozen large freezer bags of fresh corn, carrots and green beans. On September 19, we preserved 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of tomatoes to be used in various sauces and soups. Many hands made light work and the feedback was all positive.
One person, who is particularly interested in living out his faith through social justice programs and sustainable food initiatives, exclaimed “It has been fun!” Another person focused on the fellowship experience, saying, “There is something special about gathering and working together in a kitchen to prepare food.”
In closing, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all who helped with the preparation and preserving of vegetables. Your hard work is an important contribution to the IFTC ministry. Special thanks to Clay Cardillo for donating the vegetables. Without all of you, the Harvest Helpers initiative would not have succeeded.
Chair, Stewardship Group