SHESHEGWANING—Members of the community of Sheshegwaning First Nation, Noojmowin Teg Health Centre, GE Power and volunteers from the Family Garden Project were on hand this past Saturday in the community to develop and put together 12 individual community gardens to provide healthy, natural, fresh foods and vegetables.
“The nearest grocery store from the community is 45 minutes away,” stated Nicole Bush. “With these family gardens our community members will be able to have access to healthy, fresh, natural food. We have made a good start with 12 families being involved in getting gardens established today. And there will be more established next year in the community to benefit additional families.”
Kristin Bickell, project manager of the Manitoulin Community Fresh Food Initiative Child Poverty Task Force and Bev Endanawas explained that the family garden project is part of the Manitoulin Community Fresh Food Initiative started up by the Child Poverty Task Force (made up of representatives from communities across Manitoulin) and the supporting organization, Noojmowin Teg Health Centre. Funding received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will assist with expansion of the Family Garden Project and other MCFFI activities over the next three years, such as enhancement of community gardens, all-season greenhouses and promotion and knowledge-sharing of traditional grown, fresh water and forest food sources.
Ms. Bickell noted, “the idea of the community gardens is to have local residents having the opportunity to grow food in their communities, providing fresh, natural foods for community members. It will cut down on these individuals-families’ transportation costs having to go to grocery stores, that in this case is 45 minutes away, when they will be able to grow their own food. It provides people options and choices where they get their food from.”
“It provides food security and locally grown, fresh foods,” said Ms. Endanawas.
Ms. Bickell pointed out the Sheshegwaning project is one of the 11 community gardens being developed on Manitoulin Island being funded through OTF over the next three years.
Each of the 12 community gardens constructed in Sheshegwaning will be 8 x 4 feet wide and a foot deep.
Ms. Endanawas noted the majority of foods the community members want to grow in the community gardens are, for instance, green and yellow beans, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes and spaghetti squash, among other food items.
Ms. Bickell noted support for the program has come from volunteers, G.E. Power and community members who help build and develop the gardens. The program has received discounts and cost reductions, for instance Mike Meeker donated the compost, RONA Little Current Building Centre provided a discount on equipment and tools needed and Dennis Corbiere provided a good price on lumber to be used to build the community gardens.
“By producing food locally it will be help build up the food system in the communities,” said Ms. Bickell. She said communities like Sheshegwaning would also like to get into food storage, cold storage and all season green houses so the program can be operated year-round.