Canberra City Care in Charnwood is a fine community initiative supporting people experiencing hardship. It is run by a handful of staff led by operations manager Danielle Bate and dozens of volunteers who look after deliveries of food from a number of sources including Oz Harvest, clothing, second-hand computers, bathroom and hygiene items.
We were invited by volunteer Greg Blood to visit the Canberra City Care kitchen garden on a site made available by Life Unlimited Church in 2017 and they partnered with the Ginninderry SPARK program to run a cert II in construction through Bricklayer Training Australia to develop the garden.
Funding was provided through the Training Fund Authority Ginninderry, an ACT Community Garden grant, Skilled Capital and donated irrigation and seedlings from Bunnings.
Work in the garden - planting, weeding, mulching and cropping - is done predominantly by six volunteers. Greg Blood, who has horticultural associate diploma qualifications and whom we met in his home garden six years ago (Kitchen Garden, January 21, 2015), is now involved in helping to manage the CCC organic garden which grows vegetables for the disadvantaged in the Belconnen area.
In 2019, the garden was further developed after an application to the Local Drug Action Team program and CCC worked with other groups to facilitate a mentoring garden program between year 6 students and year 9 students at the local feeder high school. There are nine large raised beds, some under shade, two large water thanks and drip irrigation.
Seedlings are sourced from donations from Fiona Buining of Ainslie Urban Farm and Canberra Seed Savers and some are purchased from Bunnings and Jamison Trash and Treasure growers, using well-known varieties of seasonal vegetables.
Currently the crops include three varieties of tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, celery, dwarf beans, yellow button squash, eggplants, spring onions, three varieties of potatoes and they have harvested 100 kilograms of cucumbers.
There is a productive fig tree and a sprawling pumpkin vine and a separate herb garden.
Cornel Bothma started at CCC in 2018 as manager of the harvest kitchen and garden. She grew up with a Cordon Bleu chef as a mum, studied food in South Africa and managed a deli, preparing food, catering and event planning for 11 years. In Australia, she gained a cert IV in commercial cookery and working as a caterer in the food industry.
Cornel and Greg work together to ensure plantings meet the needs of the kitchen and clients. Cornel plans the daily menu around the vegetables grown in the garden at the CCC kitchen door. Meals are sold for a small fee to the public and dishes include vegetable curry, minestrone and frittata (recipe follows).
Every Tuesday from 10am to 2pm a group of volunteers at Canberra City Care in Charnwood runs a harvest stall. The Canberra Organic Growers' gardens at Cook, led by Greg who has a plot there and Charnwood, led by Teresa Rose, supply excess produce to the stall. About 25 kilograms are donated each week and sold for $1 per kg to 30 to 50 clients at the peak of the summer season and they are also able to swap produce, for example corn for tomatoes.
Volunteers on the stall include Julie and Joe Fenech and their son Samuel who also have a plot at Cook COGS.
Vegetable and feta frittata
1 clove garlic
1/2 red/brown onion, cut into thin slices or spring onion
100g grated cheese (tasty, cheddar)
200g feta cheese, cubed
1 red/yellow capsicum, cut into thin strips
100g fresh baby spinach or kale, finely sliced
1 zucchini, halved and sliced
350g pumpkin, any variety, cubed 2cm
350g sweet potato, cubed 2cm
2 tbsp milk/cream
fresh herbs of choice, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Grease a baking dish and set aside.
2. Roast pumpkin and sweet potato in oven on an oven pan sprayed/drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Check at 20 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on the edges and is cooked but still firm. Set aside. Leave oven on.
3. In a pan, fry crushed garlic, onion, capsicum, zucchini and kale, in batches for three to five minutes, season lightly. Set aside.
4. Whisk together eggs, milk, season well.
5. In a greased baking dish, layer the pumpkin, sweet potato, vegetables, baby spinach, grated cheese and feta. Pout the egg mixture over the vegetables. Add fresh herbs. Bake for 30-45 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Note: Any vegetables you might have in the fridge (or garden) can be used for a frittata. Cooked bacon, cubed ham or chorizo sausage can be added. Serve with a side salad as a main meal, breakfast, cold for lunch or picnic.