It’s been a great year for One Tomato 🙂  

We started last January with a vision of what we’d like to do, and money to do some of it, thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Sun Life Financial. Another big communal garden in Sarnia, more in the county, more classes in Food Works, free soup, and even more urban farmers growing food for the food banks – our wishes for 2013.  Well, talk about getting wishes fulfilled!!

Goodwill Industries – Essex Kent Lambton joined the food-not-lawn movement and tore up the entire front of their corporate head office for naturalization and food production. Shawn McKnight of Return the Landscape has created a gorgeous natural oasis with the Laura Santina Braun naturalization gallery on a busy intersection in the city. This corner is next to a high school and on the walking route for dozens of elementary school children. On the second half of Goodwill’s property, we installed a communal garden. St. Clair High School’s horticulture class tends this garden with some help from Goodwill staff. It is a beautiful and productive garden, growing hundreds of pounds of food for people living in the neighbourhood, as well as for the food banks of Sarnia.  Goodwill was the recipient of TD’s Friends of the Environment fund (with Sobey’s), as well as the Scott’s ‘Give Back to Gro’ award for 2013 with One Tomato. We are honoured to be a part of these projects!

One of the high notes for the year was the launch of the Scott’s garden at Goodwill in Sarnia. Premier Kathleen Wynne attended the opening of the garden, and was a fantastic guest of honour. She was kind and engaged with the grade 7/8 students from Queen Elizabeth II elementary school in Sarnia, asking them questions and learning how to peel a turnip. Students were equally excited to meet Mayor Mike Bradley, and he was just as excited to talk with them! What an opportunity for these students, and we are so thankful for it!

Awesome Foundation Sarnia was … well, awesome to us, and gave us a $1000 grant in the summer to hold Souper Day. Souper Day was awesome too 🙂  In spite of a torrential downpour that fell exactly during our soup time, we still managed to hand out between 150 and 200 bowls of vegetable soup, made from local veggies by Dave at Blackwater Coffee and Tea Company. Dave has been a great supporter of us and we are thankful for Awesome and Dave (who is also awesome!).

Fall saw us starting up Food Works, our 8 week hands on cooking class for intermediate grades, in 22 classes throughout Lambton County. We were able to do this thanks to a Creative County grant from the County of Lambton, as well as a grant from General Mills ‘Champion for Healthy Kids’. Twelve dedicated and patient volunteers worked for 8 weeks teaching 550 students about cooking healthy, local foods, and safe food handling skills.  Kids also learned about the importance of being active, and the connection between food and health. Students were able to earn a radio ‘shoutout’ from Sarah at 99.9fm the Fox in Sarnia if they did exercises with her every morning during her radio show. Many classes had teachers take note of the exercise, and had their students do them as school started. All of us were consistently blow away by the skills students told us they learned, things like ‘courage to try new things’, ‘teamwork’ and ‘initiative’. There were a few bumps along the way, and a steep learning curve with so many students throughout all of Lambton County, but we have learned and are going forward. We are thankful for our amazing volunteers who are the sole reason we can deliver this program to students!

Our goal for Food Works is 1000 students each year in the program. 2012 saw 1050 students in the program, but we really want to see 1000 each school year, not just in a calendar year 🙂  Here’s a wish for this year, that we find the funding and continuing support to reach our goal 🙂

Looking forward to 2014, we hope to continue with the programs that we have, helping to make sure everyone can participate in a food secure and sustainable community. Our mission is to grow healthier communities, one tomato at a time, and we are working hard every day to do just that. This could be a big year for One Tomato, as we look to build a regional food hub, a community food centre, and expand our programs.

Thank you so much for your support. We know that none of this would happen without YOU – and most of all we are thankful for you and allowing us to do what we love.

Happy New Year! All the best for you in 2014!

 

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