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Growing a sustainable food system at Leaf Rapids, Manitoba Asfia Gulrukh Kamal , Mariah Mailman and Shirley Thompson Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba [email protected] cc.umanitoba. ca.
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AsfiaGulrukhKamal, Mariah Mailman and Shirley Thompson
Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba
Keith Anderson and his niece are gardening. In 2003 Keith and Chuck Stensgard helped 30 families in Leaf Rapids to start gardening. Most of those families are growing flowers and vegetable.
Leaf Rapids community involvement in gardening and healthy living.
Community people getting plants from Leaf Rapids school greenhouse.
23% of households cut the size of children’s meals and 20% of households had children who skipped meals.
Leaf Rapids was founded in 1971 as a mining community and now the majority of the population are First Nation people relocated from the surrounding communities. Unlike many other northern communities, it has great infrastructure and facilities to quickly evolve with the healthy food initiatives. For example, Leaf Rapids has a large centralized complex with many businesses, educational health and recreational facilities as well as a health center promoting healthy life styles. Another important component is the community owns its own Co-op grocery store that is a beneficial factor in the distribution and promotion of healthy food. Leaf Rapids is privileged to have a large school with planting rooms, green houses and several large indoor and outdoor growing areas. Under the supervision of Frontier School Division’s regional gardening coordinator, Leaf Rapids school is providing various gardening and planting facilities to school students and community members, as well as to other communities.
Households often (11%) and sometimes (33%) ran out of food and didn’t have money to buy more.
56% of households often or sometimes couldn’t feed children enough because there wasn’t enough money to buy food.
Chantal : “I want to be a gardener. I love watering plants.”
A door to door household food security survey and interviews of 101 Leaf Rapids households (random sample) was conducted in June 2009 by AsfiaGulrukhKamal. The people interviewed ranged from 18 to 70 years of age. The survey findings were analyzed by Statistical Products and Survey Solution (SPSS). Open-ended qualitative interviews were conducted in order to get a holistic understanding of the problem and the solutions. Participatory video methods were used to record your stories and community engagement.
“I enjoy gardening.”
Walter Harcrow said, “I believe in practicing the traditional way of hunting and fishing. And I think we should pass the tradition to our young generation”.
Prices for healthy food were too high: 27% of Leaf Rapid households said they often worried they would run out of money and not be able to buy food. Some households had hungry children because there was no money to buy food. People couldn’t afford to buy healthy food. A number of community people were getting involved in gardening and healthy lifestyle but more help and training is needed to make a difference.
What are people saying?
Manypeople who were interviewed wanted to garden (30% of households). Before the mine closed many families gardened. The long-time community members reported that it was a popular hobby and people competed for the best garden.
In 1981 several teachers built a solar shed greenhouse at Leaf Rapids. Between 1981 to 2000 the school sold between 600 and 1000 trays of flowers and garden vegetables to the community people to buy the supplies and materials to maintain the greenhouse. The town center had a vegetable exhibition. After the mine closed, approximately 70% of the families left the community for other job opportunities across Canada. With increasing levels of unemployment, a revival of gardening is needed to a) increase more physical activities for adults, b) access more healthy food from their own gardens and c) ensure healthier life styles for young children.
Many community membersfelt positively about teaching some young children fishing and hunting as well as the need to teach others. They thought the presence of people from 14 reserves and Aboriginal settlements in Leaf Rapids makes the community open to teachings on Aboriginal traditional hunting, fishing and gathering.
We thank Frontier School Division for their support, Chuck Stensgard, Keith Anderson, Penny Howlett andCynthia Greenhamfrom Leaf Rapids for their feedback on the first draft of this poster and Leaf Rapids community members for participating in the survey. This study was funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research Regional Partnerships Program (CIHR-RPP). Photo credit: AsfiaGulrukhKamal.