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In the Spirit of Growing: North Spirit Lake

Children planting their new mobile garden at Victoria Linklater School, North Spirit Lake

If you follow our social media posts you’ll know that we recently undertook a long and windy journey to establish Generation Nutrition within North Spirit Lake, a remote fly-in community of 290 people in Northwestern Ontario. The eight hour voyage to cross the province is similar to the route that produce typically takes to reach this area, allowing us to experience first-hand how difficult it is to guarantee consistent access to the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs that we may take for granted in cities. This reality was made all the more apparent when grocery shopping for the duration of our trip; a day’s worth of food and basic necessities for four people, which would have cost at most $30 in Toronto, amounted to $102.


Flight route to North Spirit Lake

Thankfully, we didn’t come all this way to shop; we brought along 80 garden boxes, also known as Cajas, to set up a Generation Nutrition garden. Established just last year, Action Against Hunger Canada launched Generation Nutrition with the focus of working hand-in-hand with educators, community members and youth to provide horticultural modules on how to grow, maintain, and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables using an innovative mobile gardening system that makes it possible to grow produce almost anywhere. By setting up the mobile food garden and education project in North Spirit Lake, the local community can ensure consistent access to fresh and nutritious produce all year round, and not worry about the impact of increased freight tariffs, weather or flight delays on the availability of healthier food options.

“FOOD SUPPLIES ARE ONLY DELIVERED ONCE IN A WHILE, AND EVEN WHEN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES DO ARRIVE, THEY’RE OFTEN ALREADY ROTTEN”
– CANDACE RAE

When Candace Rae, Recreation Director at the Stanley Rae Memorial Health Station of North Spirit Lake, first reached out to Action Against Hunger Canada, she described that “food supplies are only delivered once in a while, and even when fruits and vegetables do arrive, they’re often already rotten”. The patrons of our 2017 Food for Action Gala generously provided us with the resources to plan for the project. Just 8 months later, with the help of our partner The Growing Connection, we were able to deliver the foundations for a garden and work together with the local community to plant the fruit, vegetable and herb garden boxes. We were determined to engage local youth in the process so as to ensure that they understood their role as part of the solution for sustainable change, and the children of Victoria Linklater School were ready to learn and get dirty in the process.

Over the course of two days the students planted 60 garden boxes, an incredible feat that highlights just how desperately the community want a long term solution for healthy living. The remaining 20 boxes will be planted once water runs again and facilities re-open. Overall, it was a beautiful experience to see children plant their own food and taste green vegetables, some of them for the first time!


Demonstrating the Garden Boxes

 

There are so many people to thank for making this trip a reality, including our partners at The Growing Connection, Pagonis Live Bait Ltd. who generously donated soil for the project, the Sioux Lookout Home Hardware, Sioux Lookout Airport and Perimeter Aviation LP. And not least, all of YOU who attended Food for Action 2017.

To see more of the journey follow Action Against Hunger Canada on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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