Shelley Shantz and Jossilynn Flewelling
Community Kitchen at Dundas Baptist Church
These two CFM women are farmers in Kent County with lots of food savvy. Shelley Shantz is co-owner of L’Hirondelle Farm that produces organic vegetables, eggs, chicken and preserves. Jossilynn grows medicinal herbs. They also understand the value of self sufficiency skills including knowing how to use various types of food and how to cook. That’s what motivated them to organize a community kitchen, a Community Food Action Project at the Dundas Baptist Church.
They took their Community Food Mentor (CFM) training in 2015 in Petitcodiac. Jossilynn already had a nutrition course under her belt and had taught food classes before, but she says the CFM course, “ Gave me ideas and inspiration and kind of lit a fire in me. It inspired me to share the skills that I had and also to connect with people that had skills that I might want to learn.” Her perspective includes more than just cooking. She’s interested in ethical food production and a spiritual connection with the earth. Jossilynn says the CFM training gave her validation.
Shelley has a degree in environmental science, that, she says, turned into an interest in food. In her youth she had food jobs cooking in camps, cafes, organic farms and eventually took a master course in organic gardening. A few years ago she and her husband started L’Hirondelle Farm. Her awareness of food insecurity came slowly but now she realizes, “A lot of the social issues come back to food.”
Shelley applied for the grant to start a community kitchen because of the high food insecurity in Kent County. She set up an information night at the Dundas Baptist Church. Jossilynn, a neighbour, attended and joined forces.
They saw the Dundas area as a “blank spot” and the perfect place to address food insecurity and lack of food skills. Ten participants, kids and adults, took part every month for eight months using local, in season food if possible. They tried different recipes and different courses and cooked enough for the participants’ families as well. Info session topics included food safety, nutrition, shopping and cooking skills, seed saving and a special foraging workshop.
Shelley says, “What I really wanted to focus on was that we all have something to learn and something to offer.”
Impact of project? Jossilynn says, “We got to be a tight knit little group. Information sharing was when social connection happened.” And that was of enormous benefit.” and, “we made some pretty amazing salads.”
After the first year, another woman became involved and they applied for another grant, this time teaching kids, aged 5-12 to cook.They prepared simple dishes and then all ate together. “It was pretty chaotic at times.” says Shelley. Jossilynn adds, “Giving them a knife and saying ‘we trust you — this is how to use it properly’; and they really respected that and were proud of themselves.” Shelley and Jossilynn are proudest of teaching kids to cook. Eventually the whole project lasted three years.
Next time, what would they do differently? Have everyone take responsibility for shopping, planning, info sessions, etc., to increase ownership and commitment. Also, to know more about how much food to buy for a large amount of people and how to scale recipes.
Future plans? Jossilynn would like to develop community gardens for seniors in the Bouctouche area. Shelley is interested in organizing a food purchasing club and also in sharing her land in Sainte-Marie with others that want to grow food. “Maybe new immigrants could come and have a garden.” And thinking even bigger she would like to have a homesteading skills school.