This month we’re featuring an interview with Kathy, our field-to-table advocate. From the kitchen at our emergency shelter, alongside residents participating in our program’s kitchen track, Kathy prepares dinner for more than adults and children every day.

What vegetables from the farm are most popular with residents? Are there any vegetables we grow that residents don’t particularly enjoy?

Actually, residents love all of the vegetables from the garden. I haven’t had anyone say they didn’t like such and such. The only thing I come across is possible allergies to certain foods like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions.

In fact, during the summer harvest I loved coming in on Mondays. Over the weekends, residents would have an abundance of whatever vegetables and fruit were ready for harvesting picked for me to incorporate into the week’s menu.

During blackberry season, I made cobblers and added to our fruit salad we had for lunches. Residents knew that if they harvested the fruits and vegetables, I would cook them up for them.

What are some of the favorite dishes you’ve made with produce from the farm this season?

Oh goodness, so many to chose from! For the first time, I made squash soup that included leeks. It was a huge success and not a drop was left. A fresh pot of green beans and shellie beans are my favorite, and one of residents’ favorite, to cook and eat.

Have you preserved any produce from the farm for the winter months? What kind of meals do you plan to make with the preserved produce?

I have put up some green beans. Christina has frozen several batches of tomatoes, as well as canned tomatoes. She also made some delicious salsa.

What do you love about field-to-table meal preparation in shelter? How have you witnessed its benefits for residents in shelter?

I think it is absolutely wonderful! Coming straight from the garden, our fruits and vegetables are full of flavor, no preservatives, full of vitamins, and so many more health benefits. Another benefit is that the women have pride knowing that they planted, nurtured and harvested the bounty that was used on a daily basis for all to enjoy.

With that said, some residents have never had the opportunity to try a variety of vegetables especially fresh vegetables. I also enjoy when a resident will tell me that they typically did not like a certain vegetable and then they tried it and loved it.

What still brings tears to my eyes is to hear women tell me how the meals prepared remind them of family, grandmothers, etc. It brings them good memories, and I feel that it also brings comforts of family in what is often a difficult time.