Native Edibles session from West End Food Festival

Three rose hips have as much Vitamin C as an orange, says Lori Snyder.  It’s one example of the powerful nutritional and health characteristics of some plants growing wild around us.  Expert facilitator for the ‘Native Edibles Workshop and Walk’ at the West End Food Festival on Sept 19th, Lori gave participants fascinating examples of plants that are edible or otherwise beneficial to human well-being.  These included Asian dogwood, red cedar, dandelion, blackberry leaves, plantain, gingko and additional species.   Some can be eaten, while others are best as teas.  Some are the basis of tinctures for skin sores, and others can be used in hot water as soothing foot baths.

native edibles rose hips

The session gave participants a glimpse into the world of naturally-occurring foods and medicines that are often dismissed as ‘weeds.’  Lori recently found an anti-depressant medication jutting out of the rocks at False Creek.  But it was not from a pharmacy; it was the plant called St. John’s Wort, which has long been known in native communities and by some scientists to possess anti-depressant properties.  

Lori also shared some of her philosophy of gathering.  When looking for ‘Usnea’ lichen, eg. ‘Old Man’s Beard,’ she waits until after a windstorm when some lichen will have blown off the trees. Then she can collect them from the ground without harming the plant. 

native edibles Lori Snyder

In one way or another we all have our hands in the earth, she said.  Yet many of us are afraid of nature – and are definitely nervous about ‘dirt.’  Lori recalled a recent day at a school garden, where she works teaching young people to grow food.   She pulled up a fresh orange carrot, with a little organic soil still clinging, and asked kids if they wanted a bite.  They recoiled in horror, so Lori ate it herself with a smile. Soil is not necessarily dirty, she says.  Besides, “we are nature.”

If you’d like to attend one of Lori’s workshops, she’ll be presenting at the upcoming fall Sustenance Festival, details of which will be online at  http://roundhouse.ca/events/sustenance-festival/, or on the site for Village Vancouver.

By Eleanor Boyle
GNH Community Journalist/Blogger


Eat Think Vote session from 2015 West End Food Festival

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Food matters to you and to all of us.  So let’s make sure food matters to our politicians.  That’s the rationale for the campaign entitled Eat Think Vote, outlined on the site of Food Secure Canada http://campaign.foodsecurecanada.org/, the dynamic national alliance of organizations and people aiming to make our food systems just, healthy, and ecological. 

Gordon Neighbourhood House was the site of an Eat Think Vote event, on the evening of Monday, Sept 21, where federal candidates for Vancouver Centre spoke about food and responded to questions – including the need for a national food policy and the troublesome lack of school programs for children who may not get adequate healthy sustenance at home.  Panelists were the Green Party’s Lisa Barrett, Liberal candidate Hedy Fry, and New Democratic Party candidate Constance Barnes.

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Each candidate outlined a few of their personal, and their party’s, positions.  Liberal Hedy Fry talked about the importance of food policy, and said she is particularly concerned about food safety and the lack of adequate attention to that issue from the Conservative government.   Constance Barnes said the NDP believes food is a right, that it has championed school food programs, and that she would like to see a ban on the advertising of food to children.  Lisa Barrett said that our societies need to stop thinking of food as a commodity, and ensure that all are fed.  She said the Green party would develop a Council of Canadian Governments to help levels of government work together on big issues like food.

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The session was a useful introduction to the three candidates and their parties.  I spoke afterward with Paul Taylor, executive director of Gordon Neighbourhood House.  He agreed that these kinds of events are useful for audience members – but also that such public discussions affect the politicians themselves by encouraging them to put food higher on their priority lists.

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Part of the 2015 West End Food Festival, the Eat Think Vote session was co-organized and sponsored by Gordon Neighbourhood House, the Vancouver Food Policy Council, BC Food Systems Network, Neighbourhood Food Networks, and the Vancouver Urban Farming Society.

By Eleanor Boyle
GNH Community Journalist/Blogger

Photos taken by Matt Schroeter.

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“Good Food Grants” From Community Food Centres Canada Invest in a Burgeoning Good Food Movement

Pop up produce standGNH Community Programmer Isabel Ashton, and GNH Food Advocate Andrew Christie at the Pop-up Produce Stand at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

Vancouver, BC, September 11, 2015—Gordon Neighbourhood House is pleased to announce it has been awarded one of five $50,000 grants from Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) as part of its Good Food Organizations program. The grant will enable Gordon Neighbourhood House to build on our innovative community food programs

This grant stream, entitled Good Food Grants, is available to members of CFCC’s Good Food Organizations program which supports Canadian food security organizations by increasing their capacity to offer healthy and dignified food programs in their communities. The 2015 Good Food Grants, totalling $250,000, marks Community Food Centres Canada’s foray into grant-making activities.

“We are at an exciting time in the growth of our community food initiatives in the West End. There is a huge appetite in the community for the development of initiatives that go beyond traditional emergency responses to hunger, but that challenge the systems that hold hunger in place. This support will allow us to develop a suite of capacity building food programs in our community” says Paul M. Taylor, executive director of Gordon Neighbourhood House.

Grantees have been selected from among the 75 Good Food Organizations (GFOs) who have aligned themselves with CFCC based on shared principles, and who are working with low-income communities to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food.

“Over the past three years, we have developed eight new Community Food Centre partnerships across the country, from Calgary to Dartmouth, and we’ve learned what it takes to succeed,” says Kathryn Scharf, Chief Operating Officer of CFCC. Scharf says that grassroots organizations can have significant impacts with relatively modest investments, “but we must acknowledge that, as our safety net frays, the strands cannot be knit back together by organizations that are chronically understaffed and inconsistently resourced. We would love to see a full-fledged Community Food Centre in every town and city, and while we can’t do that today, we are working with organizations with similar values to test how sharing ideas and resources can accelerate their work and build a shared case for its value.

Gordon Neighbourhood House is joined by four other grantees selected from across Canada including Nelson Food Cupboard Society in Nelson, BC; YWCA Peterborough Haliburton, in Peterborough; Parkdale Food Centre in Ottawa, and NDG Food Depot in Montreal.

Media inquiries: Paul M. Taylor, Executive Director, Gordon Neighbourhood House 604 683 2554 ext. 202 or paul@gordonhouse.org

Media inquiries: Christina Palassio, Director of Communications, Community Food Centres Canada 416 531 8826 ext. 229 or christina@cfccanada.ca

Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942. We have a history of working alongside our neighbours to facilitate connection, engagement, and collaboration while seizing opportunities for community development. Our mission is to make the West End a better neighbourhood in which to live and grow and to ensure that our community is a vibrant and active community, where everyone is empowered to play an active role in civil society.

The Good Food Organizations program is an initiative of Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC). CFCC provides resources and a proven approach to partner organizations across Canada to create Community Food Centres that bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food. CFCC also works with the broader food movement to build greater capacity for impact and to empower communities to work toward a healthy and fair food system. For more information, visit www.cfccanada.ca or follow @aplaceforfood.