Feeding a village – Community garden project growing for Ahtahkakoop

Dorothy Ahenakew has been the meals safety coordinator for the Ahtahkakoop neighborhood Backyard Initiative Venture for the previous three years with assist from the Ahtahkakoop band, the Battlefords Company Tribal Chiefs (BATC), and Canadian Feed the Youngsters. Not solely are they rising meals for two,000 neighborhood members, however they’re additionally making an attempt to make their neighborhood self-sufficient, she says.

Ahenakew shouldn’t be solely working onerous to feed her neighborhood but additionally to advertise gardening for the whole Ahtahkakoop neighborhood. Through the faculty 12 months, she’ll convey out grades from the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation Excessive Faculty to assist in the backyard and he or she affords experience and seeds to anybody in the neighborhood who needs to start out their very own backyard at their houses. Ahtahkakoop band councillor Pat Isbister says she hopes all of Ahenakew’s onerous work begins a lifelong love of gardening, particularly in younger folks.

In keeping with Canadian Feed the Youngsters, who associate with Indigenous communities throughout the nation to assist community-led meals packages, Indigenous youngsters are 2.5 occasions extra more likely to stay in poverty and, “meals safety for youngsters and adults residing on and off-reserve ranges from 21 per cent to 83 per cent, in comparison with three per cent to 9 per cent for Canadians,” in keeping with their web site.

For Ahenakew, she doesn’t wish to be reliant on farmers or grocery shops for produce.

“If now we have our meals, rising ourselves and distributed to our folks, that’s meals safety.”

However there have been some challenges alongside the best way. Storage of produce has been a difficulty, says Ahenakew. Final 12 months, she organized with the native faculty so every pupil received to take a 10-pound bag of potatoes dwelling with them. They simply didn’t have wherever else to retailer the potatoes, she says.

This system is rising and are available fall, the backyard will hopefully have a root cellar in place so greens will be saved.

Maintaining a backyard massive sufficient to feed 2,000 folks is loads of work, however Ahenakew does have assist with the backyard using six full-time workers via the Youth Employment Program and the BATC.

“I’m their mentor and so I’m instructing them every part they should find out about rising a backyard.”

For the neighborhood’s most weak, together with elders and people residing on social help, this neighborhood backyard means higher entry to reasonably priced wholesome meals.

For Ahtahkakoop band administrator, Carmen Little, Ahenakew’s work is about extra than simply meals however an general holistic method to a wholesome neighborhood.

“Plenty of the programming that we placed on, not solely with our well being middle however inside the First Nation. At our college we do a vitamin program so we’re making an attempt to offer a wholesome snack or a wholesome meal to the youngsters in class through the faculty days … a meal that you may develop a wholesome baby on. You bought to feed the thoughts to feed the expansion of their schooling.”

A diabetic well being employee in the neighborhood sees a problem in giving folks a purpose to get energetic. Ahenakew says gardening can provide folks a purpose to get outdoors and get energetic whereas additionally offering themselves with wholesome meal choices.

Offering for the wants of the neighborhood, from fundamental vegetable must offering greens for neighborhood occasions and the weekly soup kitchen to having the ability to promote the greens at a extra aggressive charge, Little sees this system increasing to satisfy all of the wants of the neighborhood. With extra expansions coming to the neighborhood backyard, Little is worked up for the day they’ve their very own greenhouse and develop their operation to develop greens to promote at a diminished charge. Not solely will that lower the prices of contemporary greens for the neighborhood and make wholesome meals extra reasonably priced, it can additionally assist the native enterprise.

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