Building Community During Quarantine

Christie Pits Park


Josée Couture is a local Realtor and a long time customer at the store. She recently found a new way to connect with the community during quarantine. She shared her thoughts over email. Read our Q&A to see how she’s coping, and giving back, during a crazy time.

All photos of Christie Pits courtesy of the Toronto Neighbourhood Walks Project

Josée Couture


You’re a realtor so you have an awareness about Toronto neighbourhoods that regular folks might not, can you share your thoughts on grocery stores as part of neighbourhoods in a city and why they are important?

Grocery stores are super important in a neighbourhood. In my 30 years in the Toronto market, I have worked in numerous neighbourhoods and know the city inside out. When folks buy a condo or a house, one of the first things they want to know is where they can shop for food and groceries. Neighbourhoods without grocery stores are a really tough sell. The Christie Pits area has always been one of my top T.O. neighbourhoods because of the village feel, the park, the home styles, the grocery shopping and the small businesses. That’s why I created a community Facebook page and group.



How long have you been a customer at Fiesta?

I have been a customer at Fiesta for as long as they have been open, over 20-years ago. I love that they support local farmers and carry products from small businesses and producers.

Do you remember your first impression of the store?

It felt like a small town store and I loved the numerous and pleasant staff. I also loved the different and unique brands of products that I couldn’t see in chain supermarkets. To this day I chuckle when I use the washroom and see the punch time cards for staff on the wall. It reminds me of one of my very first jobs when I lived in Quebec City.



What inspired you to start your “Cooking From The Pantry” contest?

COVID-19 has had people cooped inside for almost 2 months and while lockdown rules are easing up a little bit we are encouraged to stay home as much as possible. In my Christie Pits Living page and group, I have almost 2100 followers who mostly live in the Christie Pits – Seaton Village community and love to shop at Fiesta. Many are going through financial hardship so I felt like a little fun and easy cooking photo contest might be a way to encourage people staying home and cooking at home. To encourage them to cook the food that they have in their fridge and pantry before buying new groceries with their gift card. Most people in the community love Fiesta Farms and Fiesta Gardens so I knew they would be thrilled about the prize! Many of the community events that I usually sponsor are not happening this summer so I decided to invest in the gift cards to support residents in the community.

What has the reaction been to your contest?

The first week of the contest I had no entries but I posted about the contest a little late in the process for a Wednesday draw. I posted again in a different way and people started sending me photos of their homecooked dishes. I give away two $50.00 gift cards every Wednesday. Last week, I received 9 entries and I already have some entries for this coming May 13th draw. The feedback has been great and people love the simplicity of the contest.


There are so many ways to connect online and we hope this inspires you to reach out to people in your own community, get to know your neighbours, and in the process make the lives of others, and your own, that much fuller. 


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