A Celebration of Food and Food Sustainability Projects

Category: Community Gardens

Farm Market Chard and Pasta

Picture taken by Greg Dixon

Greg and I were driving in West Kelowna BC Canada looking for a place to walk. We drove by the lovely BONFIRE Culinary Farm Market and stopped to see what they had for sale. I was craving something green and saw Swiss Chard still in the field. Lisa was welcoming and offered to pick a bunch for us.

Fresh cucumber, Chard, and field tomatoes from BONFIRE Culinary Farm Market
picture by Bonnie Dixon

Fresh field tomatoes also caught my eye. Nothing better than a fresh tomato sandwich on toasted sourdough bread!

Picture by Bonnie McDonald

Pasta with Chard and Garlic

1 pound Swiss chard, stems cut from the leaves and the stems and leaves chopped separately

1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 white onion sliced into slivers

3 large garlic cloves sliced thin, Russian Garlic is terrific

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup water or broth, Better Than Bouillon is my favorite

1 1/2  cups red cherry tomatoes

1/2 pound penne or other tubular pasta

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan plus more for topping

Rinse and drain separately the Swiss chard stems and leaves.

In a large heavy skillet cook the red pepper flakes and the garlic and onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the garlic is pale golden, add the stems and 1/4 cup of the water, and cook the mixture, covered, for 5 minutes, or until the stems are just tender.

Add the leaves with the remaining 1/4 cup water and salt and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and cook the mixture, covered, for 3 minutes, or until the leaves are tender.

While the chard is cooking, in a kettle of salted boiling water boil the penne until it is al dente and drain it in a colander. In a large bowl toss the penne with the chard mixture and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan,

In heavy skillet toss in cherry tomatoes and sear till they almost pop. Toss on top of the Penne Chard.

 Serve it with the additional Parmesan. If desired.

Tip: To chop the Swiss Chard after washing, roll the leaves into a tube and then slice. They come out nice and evenly sliced.

Substitute canned cherry tomatoes for fresh and use the juice from the can for the water or broth.

Optional : Add 2-3 links cooked and sliced Italian Sausage

Sustainable Food For Children

Many relatively affluent communities and especially poor communities have challenges to make sure all children have enough nutritional food to eat.

Bounty from your home garden

We are starting a pilot project to provide sustainable food production for children using lessons and strategies from various food sustainability projects.

The project includes tips for growing food in limited space using seed sprouting, container gardening, wall gardening, and small plot urban farming.

The project also includes ideas for community food production such as the use of unused public and private spaces for urban farming.

We also look at food rescue strategies to make use of edible food that often goes uneaten.

The ideas start very small and grow to very large scale solutions to the challenges of providing food to those who need it.

Learn More about the Sustainable Food For Children Project

A Roadmap To Food Security

Food Security is having a reliable source of enough food to survive and thrive.

Bounty from your home garden

One of my motivations for creating the Food Connection Network is to offer advice and options to help organizations such as orphanages achieve a level of food security.

The following suggestions provide a roadmap to filling food needs while minimizing the reliance on money donations alone.

The intention here is to provide an introduction to ideas and build out to detailed posts on each with links to information, resources, and related projects.  The information will grow over time.

Easy First Steps

Here are some things you can do to provide food starting with few requirement for space or investments.

Sprouting Seeds

All you need to start sprouting seeds inside is a container such as a jar, some clean water, and seeds. 

Popular seeds include Alfalfa, Green Kale, Red Clover, Fenugreek, Crimson Lentils, Mung Beans, Oriental Mustard, Green Peas, Sunflower, Wheat Berries, Daikon Radish and more.



Growing microgreens has become very popular with restaurants and can increase food security.

Similar to sprouting seeds, microgreens are small plants that can grow in a little soil in small containers inside or outside.

Container Gardening

Say you live in an apartment or have limited space for gardens.  You can grow a surprising amount of food in buckets, planters, and other containers that can be moved.


Wall Planters

Any vertical wall or fence can become an efficient growing space. The idea is to plant into rows of pockets to create a living wall that can provide food.

Small Garden Plots

Do you have grass or areas of dirt or gravel that could be used to grow food? 

A little work and some soil can provide fertile space to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Greenhouses and Cold-frames

Structures such as greenhouses and cold-frames can help extend your growing season and provide high production.

Backyard Chickens and Other Animals

Many cities allow a small number of hens in backyards to provide eggs.

Some rural areas may permit raising animals such as chickens, goats, and rabbits for food.

There is a new trend towards raising edible insects.

Honey Bees

The world needs more bees and protection for bee habitats. Some cities will allow beehives to produce honey.


Community Solutions

The next items involve working with other people and groups.

Community Gardens

A growing number of communities provide space for community gardens. Often these are raised planter boxes assigned to individuals.

Urban Farming On Public Spaces

I have been involved with a number of projects in North Vancouver and there are some large projects around the world that take public space to grow fruits and vegetables.

Farmers Markets

Local farmers markets provide an opportunity for people to enjoy local goods and provide an outlet for local producers.

Food Festivals

Food festivals can provide a fabulous way to put people who enjoy food with producers and organizations that celebrate food and help with food security.

Cooperative Food Projects

Cooperative Food Projects often involve multiple organizations and many volunteers to make work.

Food Rescue

A shocking amount of food goes uneaten.

Edible produce is left in the field.

Much edible food is culled for cosmetic reasons.

Unsold or aging stock on shelves is discarded.

Spoiled or unwanted food is tossed from fridges.

Restaurants and caterers discard leftover food.

And yet there are many people and organizations that could use the food.

Here are some of the ways food rescue projects can redirect food that may end up in landfills to help feed people:

  • Use food donated by grocery stores to provide meals for school food programs.
  • Donate to food banks and soup community meal programs.
  • Donate food to orphanages.
  • Process the food for freezing for use in community food projects.
  • Composting what cannot be eaten to help grow more food.
  • Package recovered food for humanitarian aid projects.
  • More …

Food Hubs

There are many moving parts in a comprehensive food rescue program. Large scale solutions may require some form of Food Hub to provide some or all of the following:

  • Commercial grade kitchen facilities.
  • Food processing and packaging.
  • Refrigeration and cold storage.
  • Distribution support.
  • Market stalls.

Want to Help?

Here are some of the many ways you can help improve food security for yourself and others:

  • Grow your own food.
  • Donate excess food.
  • Volunteer for food security projects in your community.
  • Subscribe to our Food Connection Network Newsletter.
  • Contribute content and suggestions for this site.  I especially want to know about related projects anywhere in the world.
  • Consider sponsoring or otherwise supporting Food Connection Network.

Keep in touch.

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