A Little About Me and The Journey to We Grow Food

My name is Carol Vandersanden, one of the founders of We Grow Food. Winter 2013 a group of friends thought that it would be a great idea to bring back the notion of the kitchen garden. We would go out, spread the word by knocking on doors and offering to help people install a free food garden. It was the start of this amazing journey. Over two dozen gardens installed the first year! It was also the year I produced a film, Experiments in My Vegetable Patch and wrote and recorded a song, that I have yet to share, about how gardening fills my soul. The rest of the history is in the web site attached. The stories I will share here.

I introduce myself as a chef and urban farmer. The food industry has been in my blood since I was about 24, One thing all my food experience have is that I create and cook using all whole ingredients. I owned and operated a catering and event company that reached and stayed number one in the region, opened a banquet hall and conference center, and finally an inspired place, The Table Restaurant where everyday was my favorite! Physically it had an open concept and a long table that sat 34 people. Spiritually it had my altar which represented who I was and my relationship with the Divine and all beings. It was often a place people stopped, looked and reflected. Energetically it was a safe space that was filled with love. One of my favorite lines from a guest was “I just came to get some table time”.

Then why did I close after almost four years. It was a place people drove great distances to experience? Locals came for a place to eat and share space. Groups of mothers came to chat and nurse their babies, Lonely and social people came because sharing a table gave permission to chat with a complete stranger. Why then would I close a business that was vibrant? It was time. As unexpected as opening a restaurant, I knew that We Grow Food, a volunteer organization, was the direction I was meant to move in. Everyday, I continue to meet people, that will join or impact WGF that I have met at The Table. The Table was a stepping stone.

This Blog is a space I will use with great love and respect. A space to share stories and experiences about We Grow Food, food security, sustainable communities, experiential learning, communities building, global issues of food waste, how LOVE is a super power,… the list is endless

I am hoping through the sharing of my stories that more are inspired to step up, speak up and join the Healthy, Accessible Food Movement as a right for everyone. What We Grow Food teaches is a life style choice. Changing the perception of food, its preparation and consuming as an inconvenient task we need to do to carry us through the day to a soul filling activity that fills us on many levels…. and I have been seeing it… COVID has had blessings.

Urban Farming, I believe, has something for everyone. We have been inspired by children holding up a single seed exclaiming “you mean this one seed will grow a head of lettuce just like in the grocery store?” Or a senior who comes to help and shares their experience about farming when they were young or how they show infinite patience as they take my four year old granddaughter and show her how to plant ever so carefully. And reluctant students who end up talking to the seedlings as they plant them because I have told them they will grow better. Everyone has a place in the garden.

I would like to thank my partner in life as well as We Grow Food, Michelle Perry. Who said 24/7 together couldn’t be amazing. the gardens are brighter and more abundant because you are there.

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