I represent a table of six patrons who have been meeting in Wesley United Church Hall, on Saturday mornings, for apple dumplings and coffee for over twenty years. Wesley Apple Corps is a group of enthusiastic and energetic volunteers who gather every Wednesday and Saturday to make, bake and sell apple dumplings and a variety of fruit pies at the Cambridge Farmers' Market and int he Wesley Saturday Café.

Over the years, the Café has become a popular meeting place for families, friends, university students and visitors to the community. It is a friendly, caring environment which has caught the interest of local newspapers and television and receives folks from all over southern Ontario and indeed the world. This notoriety is evident in the comment book at the coffee urn. The Corps' popularity is demonstrated by the lineups for its tasty treats. Even the most frequent customers know that to get a pie during special holidays, one must be early or be disappointed.

The group purchases its apples from a Cambridge Market vendor (about 4 bushels/week) and most of its fruit from Ontario growers. All other supplies, equipment and services are local. Until recently, even the apple peelings have provided food for local pig and horse farms.



Apple Corps

While the Corps had its beginnings as a response to updating its heritage building in the centre of the Cambridge community of Galt, it has grown to have a wide outreach as well. It is a committed donor to the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank and The Bridges, as well as donating apples to the school breakfast programme in East Galt. Likewise, it has long supported Women's projects in South Africa, including a sewing and shirt making operation. For 19 years and presently, the Apple Corps continues to fund the buying of soup powder for a soup kitchen, feeding more than 1,000 every week in the squatter community of Q'olweni. Two years ago, one of the Corps' members went to Q'olweni, trained two local women and developed curricula for a pre-school educare centre in this squatter community. Some of this is documented on the wall of the Café in a collage. In addition, money is set aside each year for humanitarian aid in the event of a catastrophe, such as the present Syrian crisis.

The Saturday Café also offers local high school students the opportunity to work and learn as they fulfill their volunteer hour requirements for graduation. It is wonderful to see the intergenerational interaction as they roll pastry, make dumplings, do dishes, clear and clean tables. There is a definite atmosphere of hard work, respect and caring for each other as well as good fun. One young man who is now in university recently obtained a summer job because of his pastry skills learned at Wesley. A new addition to the Café has been a local artisan promotion project. It provides an opportunity for local talent to be showcased and their creations to be sold.

It is difficult to describe the place that the Wesley Café and indeed, the group that makes it all happen, have had in this community. It really must be experienced. To have had this enjoyment all these years with my friends in addition to the delicious pies, dumplings and "endless" coffee, has been wonderful.


A Happy Patron