All Around the Table: Making the connection between seniors’ food knowledge and building a sustainable food system in NL
Newfoundland and Labrador face significant food security challenges. There is not enough food produced locally to feed our population. We depend greatly on outside food and inputs. We have an estimated 2-3 day supply of fresh vegetables in the case of a disruption to the food system. As a result, we face high costs, limited quantity, and low quality of healthy, fresh foods in our stores. All of this leads to low consumption of fresh vegetables, and high rates of diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases.
This was not always the case. When our grandparents were younger, the grocery store was out the back door: in vegetable gardens, laying hens, fishing boats, and berry grounds.
It is this rich food heritage that enabled our province to be more self-sufficient years ago. Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador (FSN) deems that heritage as one of our greatest food security assets in the province.
To preserve this knowledge and share it, FSN launched a new collection of short films called All Around the Table, as part of its Root Cellars Rock initiative (http://rootcellarsrock.ca/). All Around the Table highlights traditional food skills and knowledge in interviews with 12 seniors from the Avalon Peninsula. Each interviewee shared their memories about how food was grown, prepared, preserved, and shared when they were growing up.
As Newfoundland and Labrador becomes increasingly dependent upon an uncertain global food system, communities are seeking sustainable and healthy local alternatives. Kristie Jameson, Executive Director of FSN, notes that “as a collection, these videos shed light on how we can start to work towards building a better food system in the province by looking to our past for inspiration.”
FSN collaborates with community groups across the province and through that work recognized a knowledge gap between elders that have a wealth of food expertise from days gone by, and young people that are trying to create a more sustainable local food system and looking for information. All Around the Table was created to start to make the connection between these generations.
Interviewees in All Around the Table talk about everything from baking bread in wood stoves, to the importance of keeping a horse, to the state of our province’s food system today. Each interviewee offers their unique perspective about what it meant to live self-sufficiently and offers inspiration to younger people to try their hand at traditional practices.
Mr. Lewis Cole from Carbonear shared his hope that this information would spread and allow others the same benefits he has felt as a gardener: “I don’t think there’s anything more gratifying than to go out in your garden and pull up half a dozen carrots for your dinner, or take up a fresh turnip, or take out a few fresh sugar snap peas for example… if you grow a little it would multiply over the years because I don’t think there’s any other activity that gives you more of a catharsis for the mind and body than growing vegetables.”
All Around the Table touches on several food security opportunities, from the value in supporting local producers and learning to grow our own food, to the importance of eating home-cooked meals and maintaining a healthy diet.
View the videos on the Root Cellars Rock blog: http://rootcellarsrock.ca/all-around-the-table/.
FSN is a provincial, non-profit organization that was founded in 1998 in response to growing issues of hunger and poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador. FSN’s mission is to actively promote comprehensive, community-based solutions to ensure physical and economic access to adequate and healthy food for all. http://www.foodsecuritynews.com/
Hanging out in a sugar shack with Mennonite friends is one of our most favourite things!
There is nothing like the smell of a sugar shack with its warmth and firelight dancing around you. Cheers to the Elmira Maple Syrup festival in Ontario http://www.elmiramaplesyrup.com/ for hosting one of the nation’s best festivals.
This photo essay is dedicated to our friends who keep us loaded up with the good stuff all year.
Marjorie Harris is one of Canada’s leading garden writers. She has been the gardening columnist for Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail since 1990; makes speeches across the country;
was the Editor-at-Large of Gardening Life magazine. She has written 15 gardening books, lives in Toronto and operates Marjorie Harris Gardens, plant consulting business.
Vegetable gardening in the front yard
Vegetable gardening in the front yard or among the perennials is going to be as big this year as it was last. People have fallen in love with growing vegetables, not just for eating but also for the aesthetics.
A gigantic fennel or edging of Swiss chard looks great among autumn bloomers such as Salvia bonariensis and other plants of its ilk. Make sure you are far enough away from traffic that the fallout won’t affect your plants and you have six hours or more of sun a day.
Vegetable Garden Tips
- Plant chives between sunflowers and tomatoes to keep aphids away
- To deter the carrot rust fly, interplant carrots with parsley, leeks, onions and sage
- Garlic is a natural fungicide. Interplant garlic with cabbages, tomatoes, eggplants and fruit trees.
- For healthy lettuce, put the seeds in a plastic bag with moist vermiculite and let them germinate in the fridge. Then plant the seeds in a shady spot.
- Plant mint to keep mice and other rodents away from your compost pile
- Rhubarb is a terrific base for a homemade organic spray to get rid of aphids, June bugs, black spot and fungus diseases
- To avoid an asparagus beetle infestation, plant tomatoes near your asparagus.
FOR MORE TIPS LOOK AT “THRIFTY GARDENING FROM THE GROUND UP” AND VISIT WWW.MARJORIEHARRIS.COM
FarmFolk CityFolk is a not for profit society that works to cultivate a local, sustainable food system. Our projects provide access to & protection of foodlands; support local growers and producers; and engage communities in the celebration of local food.
Since October 1993, FarmFolk CityFolk has been supporting community-based sustainable food systems. We have done this by engaging in public education with farm and city folks; actively organizing and advocating around local, timely issues; building alliances with other organizations and businesses; and harnessing the energy of our volunteers.
A sample of our projects
Home Grown was a photographic exploration of local food production and sustainable farming in Vancouver and the surrounding region, presented in partnership with the Museum of Vancouver.In photo-journalistic style, 39 stunning images by FarmFolk CityFolk’s own, photographer Brian Harris, contained a call-to-action for individuals and communities to reclaim control of local food systems and to think carefully about the ethics of food consumption decisions that are made everyday. Accompanying programs included; workshops, screening, talks, and tours providing a deeper understanding and appreciation of local food production issues as well as the inspiration and skills to start a backyard or community garden.
Eat Your History is a series of articles written by Jeff Nield and Joanne Will and guest edited by J.B. MacKinnon, co-creator of the 100-Mile Diet. What’s it about? Food. Place. History. A stimulated mind and happy taste buds. >From the Olympia Oyster to Salt Spring Island’s Ruckle Bean this written feast inspires a renaissance of BC’s unique local foods. The online series can be read ere:http://thetyee.ca/Life/2009/08/06/EatYourHistory/ and they have also been included in a book called Harvested Here: Delicious Thinking about Local Eating, available from FarmFolkCityFolk (call us!)
A partnered project of FarmFolk CityFolk and the Environmental Youth Alliance and the Backyard Bounty Collective
This project was a collection of four new small businesses based in Vancouver that focus on backyard food systems that you may not (yet) see on your daily stroll down the lane. A recipient of Vancity’s enviroFund award, Backyard Bounty will help four ‘Farmpreneurs’ partner with Vancouver residents to design, build, and maintain small farming operations on their residential property. Four separate agriculture applications – apiculture (honeybee keeping), aquaponics (fish and vegetable closed tank system), chicken/egg farming, and mushroom farming – will be offered to urban dwellers under the guidance and support of the Environmental Youth Alliance. A strong public education component accompanies the project, cultivating the broader goal of food security and raising more of our own food closer to home.
Good for You, Good for Our Earth - our second season will start April 1st, 2013 on Telus TV
This health and wellness show features BC food producers and manufacturers who embrace environmental sustainable business practices. Each segment will take you behind the scenes to show you exactly where your dollar goes when buyinglocal food, and how our local food manufacturers are leading the way in reducing the effect food production has on the environment. The show’s host and well-known Vancouver dietitian Lori Petryk, will provide viewers with valuable nutrition information to help them make healthy choices for themselves and their families. Each segment will feature a different Vancouver Lower Mainland farmer / food producer and manufacturer who produce healthy food products while embracing environmentally sustainable business practices.
FarmFolk CityFolk is based in Vancouver, British Columbia http://www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca/
Michael Schmidt: Farmer, activist, food advocate
Michael Schmidt knows the story of David and Goliath well. He has played the role of David for 20 years in his fight to sell raw milk (unpasteurized) to the general public. Taking on the role of Goliath are various provincial agencies.
Michael’s novel approach was a simple one. Consumers wishing to buy milk would purchase a “cow-share”, effectively owning a portion of a cow. Since there is no law prohibiting a person drinking raw milk from their own cow, Michael argues his process is legitimate and within the law.
Schmidt’s farm was raided in 1994 and again on November 21, 2006 by armed officers. His dairy products were destroyed, his equipment seized, and Michael was charged with 20 criminal offences for distributing unpasteurized milk.
To bring awareness to his cause, Michael went on a hunger strike in September 2011, and delivered a letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting a dialog to discuss the rights of people to eat what they want and the right to buy food directly from farmers.
After two decades of legal battles and public debates, Michael’s story and the issue of food freedom continues.
“The 20 raw milk charges from the 2006 raid on his farm, on which he was first acquitted and then subsequently convicted, will be reviewed again in another court of appeal, likely some time in spring of 2013.” http://thebovine.wordpress.com/
His story is documented in the film “Milk War” http://www.ichannel.ca/milk-war/about-milk-war/
Michael Schmidt – Glencolton Farms: http://www.glencoltonfarms.com
Youtube: “A farmer’s fight to drink raw milk” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SI_2LNeI1YM#!
Coined Food Freedom Day by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), February 14, 2013, is the calendar date when the average Canadian will have earned enough income to pay his or her grocery bill for the entire year.
The Urban Food Revolution
Here at Green Living, we’re serious foodies. We believe in organic, local and sustainably grown food that we can feel good about eating and sharing with our loved ones. We want to feel connected to our food—to know where and how it’s made, what happens to it along the way, and its environmental impact. Put simply, we don’t want farming to be invisible.
Luckily, the ever-expanding sustainability movement is making it possible to become more self-sufficient. You can grow your own healthy food—without owning any acreage. Urban and suburban agriculture is sprouting up (pun intended) everywhere as more and more city slickers wean themselves off commercial supermarkets and create innovative growing spaces in their backyards, on vacant lots, on rooftops and even on walls.
By growing what we need close to where we live, we can become morethan just consumers. We decrease the “food miles” associated with transporting and distributing food, and we keep money local (a dollar spent on a Toronto-grown cucumber, for example, will most likely stay in Toronto). Plus, urban agriculture makes use of valuable resources that would otherwise go to waste, such as wastewater and compost (or, in farmer-speak, black gold!). Perhaps best of all, it brings us together as a community, working towards the common goal of putting food security and safety into our own hands.
Inspired? We are too. You can start small—get a tomato plant for your balcony, or buy produce from a city farm like Toronto’s Fresh City Farms or Cultivate Toronto’s CSA program. You could also go bigger and start a neighbourhood veggie-growing project. Either way, you’re helping to spark the revolution.
Got an urge to grow but don’t know where to start? Torontonians can look to The Backyard Urban Farm Company (BUFCO) or Young Urban Farmers (YUF) for expert advice on edible-garden design and maintenance. And join us at the 2013 Green Living Show (April 12-14) to hear more about sustainable food, sample some of the best, most delicious local food and wine, and learn how to create your own urban farm.
Will you help grow the revolution?