The following is an interview with Halton Food Volunteer, Beth Martin.
To begin, describe the ways that you are involved in your local community.
Oh gosh, I hope you’re ready for a novel here. I’ve always been active in the community – through community gardens and volunteering. I first encountered Halton Food when I was working with a friend earlier in the year to implement a food garden program at our kids’ school.
When COVID-19 emerged and restrictions took place, I heard about these Facebook groups called CareMongering, and I thought that would be a great resource for Burlington as well. I created CareMongering Burlington (now called Burlington Together) with the intent to connect the community and fill the gaps in support that existed at the beginning of the pandemic. Now that most of the traditional supports have pivoted and their programming is functioning more fully, Burlington Together serves as more of a charitable community hub and social support.
I’ve launched a couple of projects through Burlington Together to benefit the Burlington Food Bank. Grow A Row encourages home gardeners to grow produce and earmark it for donation. Also, for the 2020 gardening season, Grow A Row is growing in and donating from the plots on the outside perimeter of Central community garden.
We’ve also created Burlington Together charity tees from which $10 is donated to the food bank for every tee sold.
Within the group, the idea for a book club grew from larger discussions about race and racism, with the intent to have more informed discussions. This month’s book is White Fragility. (Join us!)
I also take donations for needed items and am creating activity packs to distribute to families who visit community food supports.
I think that’s it!!
You sound like a busy person! Why is this work important to you?
I’ve always been someone who likes to solve problems creatively (marketing & advertising background, woo!), but I also care deeply about helping others and building community in a tangible way. It’s so easy to do something that may seem small to you, but makes a huge impact on someone else. I’d love to be able to encourage people to do these easy, small things, so we’re working together to support everyone who needs support.
Food, specifically, is important to me because it’s an equalizer. We all need food to survive. There is not a single person that can live without it, and it’s something that touches everyone’s lives. I believe having access to a full meal, and not worrying about the next one, frees up so much mental energy, and lets a person focus on other important aspects of their life.
Additionally, I want to encourage others to feel empowered and self-sufficient when it comes to food. There is so much you can grow and enjoy yourself, even if you’re in an apartment with no outdoor access. You know exactly where that food comes from, and there’s this addictive sense of accomplishment when you harvest something edible from a plant you grew yourself.
How did you become involved in gardening?
I started my very first garden on a VERY unsafe balcony attached to my apartment in Toronto. I grew lettuce (so satisfying to grow!) and some flowers. I was hooked. I also remember I had an intense relationship with a couple of squirrels who kept uprooting everything at night.
What is your favourite vegetable?
I love zucchini; every possible preparation. Also, hot peppers, and corn, and beets. Kale, cilantro, and I do not enjoy each other’s company.
What is your favourite vegetable to grow? Why?
I love lettuce because it’s an early, fast-growing plant. You can pick baby leaves if you’re impatient like me, or you can wait and harvest a full, beautiful head. It’s so satisfying and it’s also quite pretty in a bed or plot.
If you could only grow one vegetable, what vegetable would it be? Why?
Zucchini. I’d have like 5,000 zucchinis and love it.
How have you been able to involve your children in the work that you do?
My kids are my sidekicks, especially right now, so they come with me most of the time. If we’re doing a donation to the food bank, they push the carts with the donations inside. If we’re at the garden, they water the plot, and themselves, and me. My daughter has started helping me weed, but only the “leprechaun” plants (clover). I offered them some fresh basil to snack on and they acted like I’d poisoned them, so still working on their love of EATING vegetables.
In what ways do your children impact your involvement in our local community?
I think they help motivate me to do more, and to put my words into actions. It’s great to say really lovely things, but I felt to set a good example I should actually be doing those things. Kids kind of blow up your world when they arrive in your life, and you see and feel things from their perspective. And through the perspective of their friends. None of us choose our circumstances, and when you’re around kids, you remember we’re all just trying to be happy, be loved, be safe.
So tell me – why should others volunteer in our local community?
It’s great! Every bit of kindness makes a big impact. You’ll meet wonderful people and feel like you’re contributing meaningfully.
Last question, does pineapple belong on pizza?
Pizza is a perfect food-delivery system for all toppings (except kale).
If you are interested in volunteering with Halton Food, email us at .