Education and local, organic food a healthy mix

Education and local, organic food a healthy mix
Organic squash from last year’s garden is a reminder to local gardeners: educate yourself and then get out there and grow! Photo: Kirsten Bradley

It is said, “You are what you eat,” and there is a new northern initiative underway to help people understand what the food they eat does to them and learn how to find local sources for as much of their diet as they can.

Ecology North has sponsored an NWT-wide initiative establishing learning workshops and involvement in local food production for all ages. The program has local representatives and events in Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, Fort Simpson and Yellowknife.

The target is to encourage local food production on the long term and through that enhance healthy living for Northerners. Education is a large part of it.

Kirsten Bradley and Tanya Tourangeau are leading the Fort Smith workshops, and plan to launch the “Hungry for Change – Food Ethics and Sustainability” program on January 31, a six-week discussion group that looks at organic alternatives to everyday meals.

In March, Fort Smith will partner with Susie Wegernoski from  Fort Resolution to hold a two-day workshop on permaculture at the Northern Life Museum. Permaculture mimicks nature in an organic garden environment, and does so in an enclosed garden.

To close out the month of March, Fort Smith will host a Seedy Sunday event, a seed swap and gardening fair, at the Northern Life Museum. The concept is to fuel healthy gardens by swapping only the best seeds from years past. You can trade or buy seeds, try some locally-grown or hunted food, and interact with gardeners of all experience levels.

Shannon Ripley of Ecology North helped begin these initiatives throughout the Northwest Territories, by developing community gardens with the Territorial Farmers Association in 2008. When funding from the GNWT allowed for further programming, Ecology North jumped at the opportunity to expand its programs.

“We are so thrilled by the enthusiasm and interesting ideas of our community programmers. We are looking forward to continuing these projects throughout the winter and into the spring,” said Ripley.

Although the programs are sponsored by Ecology North, Ripley was eager to relay the partnership’s prime objective.

“We don’t want to come into communities and tell them what to do. We want to learn what works, and help them develop their own unique programs,” she said.

The goal of these workshops throughout the NWT is to promote healthy living and sustainability, giving residents a forum to actively discuss and work with new ideas to best promote community living.

All events are open to the public, free of charge. For more information about the Fort Smith programs contact Kirsten Bradley at 867-872-2847. For information regarding programs throughout the Northwest Territories contact Ecology North at 867-873-6019.

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