Karen Dahl feels libraries have a role to play when it comes to supporting food education, and the Halifax Central Library is embracing that role.
“Connecting people to resources is sort of a fundamental piece of what libraries can do,” says Dahl, the manager of Program Development at Halifax Public Libraries. She’s also one of the organizers for FRESHFest, an event of drool-inducing activities and focused on Food Resources Everyone Should Have. It’s part of the libraries’ Tastes Like Home program series, which aims to celebrate Nova Scotia’s food culture.
“We’re really looking at stories and recipes from founding cultures in Nova Scotia, and then we’re also exploring the diversity of today’s cuisine: Things that newcomers have brought to the region.”
Tastes Like Home has workshopped various aspects of “culinary literacy,” including “basic kitchen survival” for young people and “lost arts” such as preserving and pickling. FRESHFest is offering knowledge about community gardens, old-timey food production methods and even beekeeping. Taste of Nova Scotia, a province-wide food marketing company, will part the culinary stage in Paul O’Regan Hall, where local chefs and producers will show off their skills and offer some sampling.
“I think really anything that’s talking about the local food community here in Nova Scotia is something that we love being involved in,” says Emily Haynes, Taste of Nova Scotia’s executive director. “We were really excited to have an opportunity to just bring more awareness to out membership and to the broader local food industry.”
On top of tasting, FRESHFest will serve as a community forum to discuss issues such as food access, health and sustainability.
“So, Food Resources Everyone Should Have—I think we’re speaking about food justice but we’re also saying, ‘Everybody eats,” says Dahl. “Everybody needs to know what’s available locally and everybody needs to have an opportunity to cook and taste and try.”