With the East Van Green initiative connecting local organic produce growers with interested community residents through the farmers’ market, or Il Mercato, the Italian Cultural Centrebecame a pickup point for fresh vegetables.
“The Urban Farming Society has always been involved in our community garden and farmers’ market,” Mauro Vescera, the Executive Director of the Italian Cultural Centre, explains. “Then they operated a little kiosk each Wednesday in our Centre to sell their salad boxes. The community loved them.”
Out of that little kiosk evolved the “Il Centro to Go” service, where delicious, high quality Italian food products made daily by the Centre’s chefs and ordered by the community members, could be picked up at the Italian Cultural Centre’s convenient location in East Vancouver.
“There was a lot of interest generated,” says Mauro, “so we approached VanCity and they invested in the initiative. We’ve linked it in to our young people’s East Van CAN (East Vancouver Culinary Arts Network) program and we’re starting to look at the Centre as a distribution point for fresh, organic, artisan food.”
It’s not a fully-fledged ecommerce business at the moment, Mauro notes, but people can phone the Italian Cultural Centre with an order for dishes on offer on Monday and pick them up on Friday. The Centre plans to operate as a distribution centre, rather than a food delivery service.
“We’re looking to partner with other farmers’ markets that are doing similar things,” explains Mauro, “and we want to develop this ecommerce initiative in partnership with the community. It creates an opportunity for us to take our industrial kitchens and culinary tradition and inculcate that into the local organic and artisan food community.”
The initiative is currently evolving, but, as Mauro points out, it will create benefits to produce vendors from out of town as well as local organic growers.
“We’re a member of the BC Farmers’ Market Association and we’re very cognizant of the opportunity to connect with and benefit the sector as well as offering the community fresh, organic, and artisan food made with Italian culinary flair and expertise.”
For more information on the Italian Cultural Centre and its ecommerce food distribution initiative, see the website, send an email, or call them at 604.430.3337. Check out the Facebook page or catch them on Instagram. The Italian Cultural Centre is conveniently located at 3075 Slocan Street, Vancouver.