Trying new things during COVID-19

Trying new things during COVID-19

October 15, 2020 — When the province went into lockdown due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many people learned new skills; some planted food gardens, others learned to make bread, and still others turned to art.

We sent out a survey asking what skills you learned this year, and we heard from you! Here are a few stories of amateur bakers and budding gardeners we want to share with you.

This spring, Louis started a garden from seeds with a long list of vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, carrots, beets, beans, onions, and turnips.
“Been wanting to do this now that I have time available!”, says Louis.
Though he lost all of his beets, he was successful with everything else and is planning on expanding his garden next year. On top of that, Louis gets to enjoy his garden into the winter as his “tomatoes are now salsa, cucumbers relish, carrots dilly carrots, peppers hot pepper jelly, and chow next on the list of things to do!”.

Lisa also took on a big gardening project by selling her extra vegetables and fruits to four other families every week.
Lisa explained, “My natural response to the pandemic was to grow as much food as possible for the winter. I planted more food than we needed. My friend asked me if I would sell her fresh food. I told her I’d try.”
Her friend loved the fresh produce and told her friends; soon there were four families in need of fresh produce and everyone loved the surprise bounty of fruits and veggies every week.
This project sparked an interest in efficient growing; Lisa enrolled in an online class on market gardening. Next spring, she plans to take on 10 families for a weekly Community Supported Agriculture food basket. Lisa loves being part of another person’s day through the gift of food.

Pascale’s garden also did well this year… too well. With too many cucumbers in her garden, she decided to try her hand at pickling.
“COVID-19 lead to job changes, visiting my community garden plot less often than usual, and before I knew it, my pickling cucumbers were overripe.”
Pascale found a recipe online for pickling overripe cucumbers and hoped for the best! Though the canning process was trial and error, it was an overall success. Her favourite part: sharing the relish with loved ones.
“And I don’t think I poisoned anyone with it either! Success in my books!”

Patience is what Joey learned while making homemade goods. When his grandson came to stay with him in March when the schools closed, his daily routine changed but at least he had help with grocery shopping. They would sometimes leave while it was still dark to get to the grocery stores before the long lines formed. During these drives together, they saw sunrises and lots of wildlife.
Breadmaking soon involved more people as friends would bring ingredients that Joey could not find in the stores. As a result of the scarcity of ingredients necessary for making bread, different ingredients went into the bread each time.
Though things have started to return to normal, Joey still makes a large batch of bread every few days and has lots of loaves to share with others. He’s developed a healthy and filling recipe and has been successful in creating bacon and cheese stuffed buns. Joey takes great pride in carrying on his grandmother’s traditions and says his house “will smell beautifully when the hot bread and buns come out of the oven to be enjoyed by friends and family.”

Betty also tried her hand at making bread and other baked goods. Though her sourdough is not quite the success she had hoped for, she has stuck to her goal of drawing and painting, and she has made a point of getting outside.
“Best part of COVID,” says Betty, “is the 18 hikes I’ve taken with friends on our local trails.”

Also turning to art during the lockdown, Mike and Brittany tried their hand at old and new skills.

With the help and encouragement of his wife, Mike has returned to the piano. “Now, after seventy years, and a lifetime of loving classical piano, I give myself a short practice session nearly every day.” says Mike.

Brittany, on the other hand has found a way to relax and take her mind off of things with a new skill after a coworker’s suggestion: digital painting. She paints on her tablet almost every day. As Brittany learns from tutorials and tries out different designs, she says “I find landscapes are the most rewarding paintings and I hope to keep improving my skills to the point where I can paint my favourite NB locations, like Grand Lake or the Bay of Fundy!”

What did you get up to during the lockdown? Send us your photos on social media, and share your photos and stories with us via email at news@naturenb.ca.