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Halton Food Volunteer Spotlight: Micheline Wheeler

The following is an interview with Micheline W. Micheline is a garden champion at one of the community garden sites in Oakville. She is passionate about reducing food waste and food insecurity in her community. Read her story below for a few easy tips and tricks to reduce food waste in your home

What food waste tips would you like to share with the readers?

There are many ways one can reduce food waste in the home. A few easy examples include:

  • Use the woody ends from asparagus to make asparagus soup. The ends are often tough for fresh eating, but are excellent for making soup. 
  • Lemons:  Buy them in bulk when they are on sale. Microwave them for 15 seconds and then roll them.  By doing this you will get more juice when you squeeze them.  Then freeze the juice in ice cube trays.  When you need a fresh lemon, take out 2-3 lemon cubes and let them defrost.  Voila, fresh lemon for your recipe.   
  • Garden fresh tomatoes.  At harvest time, wipe them with a damp cloth, place them on a cookie sheet in your freezer for 24 hours.  Bag them and when you need to make fresh pasta sauce, take what you need, cut an X on the bottom and either microwave for 30 seconds or run under hot water so the skin comes off easier, and cut the core out.  Will tastes very fresh when cooked. 
  • Another tip for reducing waste is when you have leftover red peppers (or any colour pepper) you can cut them up in small pieces and freeze them on a cookie sheet overnight.  In the morning you can put them in a freezer bag.  They are easier to take out of the bag in small amounts to use them in omelettes or stews when needed.  You can do the same for green onions for stews or stir fry. 

Describe the ways that you are involved in your local community.

Although I am retired, I like to be involved in my local community, which helps me stay active.  I continue to do counselling work on a part-time basis and am involved with our community garden in Oakville.  I have always enjoyed gardening, for it offers hope to see plants come to life and nurture us with good taste and beauty. 

Why is this work important to you?

This work is important to me for it gives me a chance to give back.  Having raised two boys as a single mother, I had a lot of community angels helping me as I struggled to give my children a good life.  

How did you become involved in gardening?

I have always loved gardening and was involved in projects in my past work, as well as had my own gardens in the past. I became involved in the garden project at the Oakville location when it was introduced to our community.   

What is your favourite vegetable?

My favourite vegetable is tomato. 

What is your favourite vegetable to grow? Why?

I really enjoyed growing garlic.  It was a project that demanded patience but was well worth the wait.  There is nothing like the taste of homegrown garlic. 

If you could only grow one vegetable, what vegetable would it be? Why?

It would be kale, for it provides super nutrients for the body and the harvest is bountiful. 

How have you been able to involve your grandchildren in the work that you do?

Yes, last year, I was able to show my granddaughter how to harvest and grow vegetables.  Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I was unable to do so this year.

How would you persuade someone to start gardening?

I would persuade someone by talking and teaching about it but mostly by the power of example.   

Micheline in the garden

If you are interested in volunteering with Halton Food, email us at grow@haltonfood.ca 

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