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  • 14 Aug 2017 4:53 PM | Anonymous


    VIU COWICHAN’S FARM-TO-TABLE TEACHING RESTAURANT NOW OPEN YEAR-ROUND

    The Farm Table dining room at Providence Farm provides Culinary Arts students with a working restaurant to learn in

    NANAIMO, BC: Marie Seitcher is taking her passion for cooking to the next level with the help of a unique fine dining teaching kitchen run through Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Culinary Arts program.

    The 34-year-old from Songhese First Nation has spent the past six months learning at The Farm Table dining room, VIU’s teaching kitchen and fine dining restaurant at Providence Farm, a non-profit, therapeutic community in North Cowichan. Since 2013, the University has run the farm-to-table experience out of the farmhouse on-site, giving students the chance to experience all aspects of running a restaurant, from working in the kitchen to greeting, seating and serving customers. Another unique aspect of the program is that students go into the gardens and learn about growing and harvesting the food they use in the dishes.

    “It gives us a good, well-rounded experience in how to run and operate a restaurant,” says Seitcher, who drives up from Victoria to participate in the four-day-a-week program. “We learn firsthand how to be a hostess, server, dishwasher, prep cook, chef and baker. It’s unique for a post-secondary program, which is why I chose to come here. My end goal is to run my own restaurant, so this is great experience. And growing your own food is a lot easier than I thought - I’ve started my own garden at home now.”

    Starting this fall, the VIU is adding a second cohort of 14 students, allowing the restaurant to stay open year-round. It will mean double the amount of students can get their Professional Cook Level 1 training in the Cowichan Valley. Each class will be seven months, allowing for some overlap.

    “This additional PC1 program will make all the difference in the restaurant operation,” says Keith Chicquen, Dual Credit Enhancement Project Leader and Instructional Director for VIU Cowichan. “We can now have it open year-round, creating consistency and dependability. Everyone, including our partners at Providence Farm, is excited about the additional programming.”

    Jason Lloyd, a VIU Culinary Arts instructor who runs the Farm to Table program, says there’s a growing market for local food dining options across the Island and many of their patrons come to support not only the students, but also the local-first concept.

    “The Cowichan Valley has now become a foodie destination and I think the popularity of the farm-to-table restaurant model is only going to continue to grow,” he says. “The produce and proteins we use are very, very local – well within 100 miles. Much of it is from Providence Farm, when they have enough. This program exposes students to the local way of doing things right from the beginning, which I hope will influence their purchasing decisions later when they are chefs.”

    Lloyd says there are still plenty of local foods students can cook with all winter.

    “I think the students appreciate the product we get in – it’s fresh and it’s local, which means all the fruits and veggies have so much flavour,” says Lloyd. “I think they also appreciate they’re cooking things that are a bit above their level.”

    Seitcher says Lloyd taught her how to run a restaurant efficiently so that even complicated dishes can be put together quickly. She’s also enjoyed working alongside the other students in the program, who are all different ages.

    “We all started as strangers, but we’re like family now,” she says.

    Chris Holt, Executive Director of Providence Farm, is thrilled with the program expansion.

    “The students and staff have become part of our community at the farm and not only do they use a lot of our fresh farm vegetables and meats at The Farm Table restaurant, but the students and staff also volunteer for various farm activities and this directly helps our participants,” he says. “This is a model of cooperation that works!”

    To learn more, and check out the menu, visit The Farm Table dining room homepage. If you’re interested in becoming a student, click here or call Registration at VIU Cowichan Campus at 250.746.3500.

    -30-

    MEDIA CONTACT:

    Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

    P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: jenn.mcgarrigle@viu.ca | T: @VIUNews


  • 14 Aug 2017 4:30 PM | Anonymous


    The pigs have arrived at the farm and are growing by the day. Come check em out!

  • 10 Aug 2017 11:32 AM | Anonymous

    Here's Darryl working hard prepping the wooden plates we are contracted to build for Feast of Fields. 


    There are lots of plates to be made.


  • 28 Jul 2017 1:51 PM | Anonymous

    Fresh Chamomile picked from our herb garden and getting ready for the store.


  • 28 Jul 2017 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    While Joseph apparently doesn't like squatting down to do the weeding he'll go to all lengths to save a nasturtium seed -according to Alicia our nature-Based Therapy Coordinator.

    Way to go Joseph!


  • 28 Jul 2017 10:55 AM | Anonymous

    Tip of the hat to our site manager Marc for creating more parking for the labyrinth and allotment gardeners. The clean up is continuous and progressing, as is the labyrinth too......


  • 26 Jul 2017 9:27 AM | Anonymous

    Volunteer Keith has been assisting in the Kitchen Program every Wednesday for over a year. Noel was presented with the task of creating a gift of appreciation for him. A personalized hand-made apron was created with much heartfelt care and enthusiasm. Great work, Noel and Keith!



  • 26 Jul 2017 9:19 AM | Anonymous
    One of our participants PM (who prefers to remain anonymous) struggles with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. But over the course of several weeks, with encouragement and instruction, he made a handbag by needle felting with sheep fleece, machine sewing with pattern assist, hand-braiding a wool cord and hand-sewing the detail work.

    "Creating projects in Textiles makes me feel good about myself".


  • 21 Jul 2017 3:02 PM | Anonymous

    Greg Cummings's fundraising career began in 1990 in London, England. A self taught professional, he has exploited every income stream available to charities, from shaking a bucket on the high street, to big gift campaigning in Silicon Valley, to fun-running in a hairy gorilla costume across Tower Bridge.

    Greg's also familiar with the course an organization seeking social change must take, the obstacles it will likely encounter, and the singular set of ethics by which it must comply.

    During his 17-year tenure as executive director of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, he raised millions of dollars from corporations, foundations, and individuals around the world. To ensure mountain gorillas survived, all that money was then invested in the communities adjacent to their habitats.

    In the mid 1980s Greg studied creative writing at the University of Victoria. Thereafter he worked as a free-lance writer in South East Asia and the Horn of Africa, and as a bartender in London's Covent Garden. He has published two novels, 'Gorillaland' and 'Pirates'.

    "To be so warmly welcomed by Vancouver Islanders," said Greg, "after such a long time away, and then given the opportunity to work for Providence Farm, possibly Cowichan Valley's best kept secret, is (if you'll pardon the pun) providential. I'm looking forward to getting their secret out."


  • 21 Jul 2017 2:55 PM | Anonymous

    Carolyn Morris has joined Providence Farm as our event and volunteer coordinator.  She comes with a bounty of skill sets, and is eager to complement the initiatives of Providence Farm!

    A teacher by trade, Carolyn’s passion is to facilitate potential – of children, adults, gardens and communities. She has managed numerous projects and events including the Squamish Farmers’ Market, Vancouver Island Homesteading Fair, Community Gardens as well as workshops on organic gardening and food preservation.

    Carolyn looks forward to supporting the connections between Providence Farm and the community in sharing the potential of space available for use, and also in organizing, supporting and celebrating the fantastic volunteers that are the heart beat of our organization.

    Feel free to stop by, introduce yourself to Carolyn, and share your interest in connecting with Providence Farm! 



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