Thalia van der Holt
Growing up in the Kootenays - especially in my family's household, I became acquainted with the importance of soil quickly. We always valued home grown, homemade food. I have memories of a bounty of fresh veggies, berries and fruits in the summer and going into the winter with a stocked root cellar and freezer with the labor of the harvest. These practices have taken root in me and have led me to a great regard for the local landscape - residing within the seasons.
The first decade of my career life was spent working as a Chef. I always gravitated towards bright and nourishing food and worked with local food suppliers whenever I could. After travelling and working away, I found myself rooted back home. Not just to the Kootenays but to the very land I grew up on. This land has always felt rich and fruitful - as if it wanted to be part of something bigger. As most things do, it started small and slow - living in a renovated barn and growing vegetables to cook with at home and work. The vision grew, and so did the gardens, to provide nutritional, seasonal food for neighbors and the wider community. Sometimes when I'm in the garden I have to pinch myself because I can't believe it all came together. A miracle that came with a mountain of planning, a vision for community and a whole lot of love.
It really is incredible what nature has to offer to get us through each season. Even in the cold winter months, if we take the time we can sustain ourselves with what surrounds.
But of course you or I can't do it alone. We are excited and honored to be a part of the movement towards localizing food - to make it increasingly common and available. We are caretaker of our land and of our soil because in the end that is what's going to save us.
Born and raised amongst the farmlands of Ontario, my journey of learning to work with food and the land began at an early age and has followed me all the way through my career as a Chef. Having nearly 20 years experience in restaurants - from Montreal to Nelson BC, my passion has led me to marvel at the beauty of mother nature and all she has to offer. A part of me has always known that one day I would take the knowledge, experience, and creativity I have learnt as a Chef and transition it back to the roots.
The forest is where I feel most at home. After living in Nelson BC for the past 10 years, these woods are where I spend my spare time - foraging and exploring with my dog, Blu. Whether it is hiking to the high alpine nettles or chasing the seemingly chaotic map of mycelium paths – the forest offers an endless bounty of food and medicine. There is a simple satisfaction in the humbling beauty of being able to bring your local community theses foraged wonders from their own backyards.
Canning, fermenting, and preserving has really become my focus. Being Canadian, the importance of working with each season and preparing for winter means survival. After becoming Head Chef at Nelson’s Pitchfork Eatery, in 2017, I was given a blank pallet to create. With that creative freedom, I was able to build upon and express my passion which was a rare and encouraging opportunity. This opportunity, along with being given free range to work with as many local suppliers as possible, has helped me solidify my love and vision for food.
Like the chaotic yet, perfectly symbiotic path of the mycelium leading me through the forest - my life journey has led me back to the soil - partnering with Thalia to piece together Kootenay Corner Gardens, a sustainable food source and future for our community.
I can’t wait to see what mother nature has in store for us.
Just a couple of Chefs who can't stay in the kitchen
Thalia and Josh worked together at Pitchfork Eatery in 2019. Josh was the Head Chef at this incredible farm to table restaurant in Nelson BC and Thalia worked as the Sous Chef.
During the year that they were in the kitchen together, they connected on the sacredness of the soil, the love of local, regenerative food, the concept of community, and sharing what that all encompasses by the expression of farm to table.
And of course always talk of the dream to start a farm.