A group of enthusiastic young pizza lovers didn't let a few clouds dampen their spirits - nor quell their appetites - at the official launch of Lakeshore Village Park's new wood-burning pizza oven this week.
The LAMP Community Health Centre event, which took place in the Garnett Janes Road park in south Etobicoke on Wednesday evening from 4:30 to 6 p.m., featured free individual pizzas, refreshments and giveaways.
Sandra Van, LAMP's health promotion program co-ordinator, said the Pizza Oven program - a first for south Etobicoke - is supported by Live Green Toronto to not only promote access to fresh fruits and vegetables through its conjunction with LAMP's weekly Good Food Market in the park, but also to help promote LAMP's 'other mission' - building social capacity.
"When we first came to this park, there was nothing going on. These kinds of programs are basically pocket change to the city, but the social capital that you get out of them is unbelievable because all of a sudden these parks just come alive," she said. "People just need a little something to get them interested and involved.
"With the pizza oven, now we have all kinds of volunteers, we have people connecting with one another, neighbours are meeting neighbours, children are coming into the park and playing....so it's really a very simple idea with an incredible return."
Up and running every Wednesday since July 6, the pizza oven - and its $1 personal pizzas topped with fresh, local produce from the Good Food Market - has drawn upwards of 50 pizza lovers each week, Van said.
"There's been a really positive response from the community. For instance, we are doubling our order, even for the Good Food Market, because we're getting so many people out for the pizza oven," she said. "It's a big hit with children because, not only do they love pizza, but they also get to be involved in making their own pizza and watching it cook. It's a really great program."
Every Wednesday until Aug. 30, participants are invited come down to Lakeshore Village Park (just north of Lake Shore Boulevard West between 10th and 12th streets), roll out their dough, choose from a selection of healthy and fresh toppings, including zucchini, red and green peppers, broccoli, onions and mushrooms, among others, and watch as their pizza is cooked in the wood-fired brick oven.
For more information, go to www.lampchc.org/content/pizza-oven