New-wave NWT farming hits Golden Horseshoe

New-wave NWT farming hits Golden Horseshoe
Bill Sitkin of Growing Spaces inside the new geodesic dome greenhouse at NFTI.Photo courtesy of NFTI.

Hello from Toronto! It’s the night before the Canadian Food and Drink Summit, and here I am, thinking about what the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) can share with the “key stakeholders in Canada’s food ecosystem” who will be meeting for the next two days.

I have been given this opportunity by Hellmann’s Canada, who we worked collaboratively with to build a geodesic dome greenhouse in Hay River. Now they have brought me to Canada’s largest city to set up a NFTI booth and I wonder how can I communicate what is going on at home, our Northern local food revolution, and how can I make it important for the people here?

Just like NFTI’s farm campus in Hay River, I have also experienced a transformation over the last couple of months. Our campus site was a former industrial pig confinement operation. We deconstructed the derelict buildings and up has grown a diverse system that brings abundance to the land. I feel like I’ve gone through a similar “deconstruction” regarding my purpose in this world. I feel like I was taught my whole life that humans cause destruction and, to be the best I can be, I should ‘leave no trace’ or try to make as little impact as possible. Now, I know that this is not true. I have learned that our land needs animals, and it needs us. We can be a powerful tool to revitalizing our ecosystem.

This year, NFTI has joined a prestigious network of farm education centres around the world who promote the work of the Savory Institute. The Savory Institute promotes large-scale restoration of the earth’s landscapes through regenerative agriculture, using holistic management (decision making with the big-picture in mind). With holistic management, people learn to listen to the land and make incredible changes. Through regenerative agriculture, we sequester carbon, recharge water systems and vastly increase productivity on our croplands; all with a system that lets animals act naturally and supports our wild ecosystems. If more farmers around the world learn holistic management we can reverse climate change, while empowering local communities.

OK… now… that seems like a message just for farmers and land managers. How will city people at this big Toronto conference be a part of the solution too? Well, as we have seen in our recent federal election, each person’s voice makes an impact. People can “vote” for positive agriculture every day by buying and eating local food or food that has been produced using regenerative practices.

I think that is the message I will promote here. As the incredible poet Wendell Berry once said, “eating is an agricultural act,” and we can reach people where they can also act in a powerful way – through their daily food choices. You can make your food choices have a global impact. You can support local farmers and you can invest in people who work to bring life to the land. You can eat to reverse climate change. Here’s what I’m going to try and communicate tomorrow with the people of Toronto. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Kim Rapati is the operations manager at the Northern Farm Training Institute, a non-profit society based in Hay River, NWT. 

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