Northern Manitoba Garden Heroes
By| Melissa Hiebert, Evaluation Coordinator, Food Matters Manitoba
After the latest gardening workshop Food Matters Manitoba held in Fox Lake Cree Nation in July, we caught up with workshop participant Brianne to chat about gardening in Northern Manitoba.
Brianne said it was her daughter Adinah — a smart and spirited six-year-old — that first got her involved in gardening. “I got interested when Adinah got interested,” said Brianne, explaining that Adinah herself became interested in gardening after her Dad introduced her to Food Matters Manitoba gardening activities that were going on in the community.
Today, Brianne and Adinah’s home in Fox Lake Cree Nation is filled with a variety of vegetable, flower, and herb plants of all different types and sizes. They also have a box garden in front of their house. At the most recent Food Matters Manitoba workshop, they managed to seed enough new plants to cover an entire table in their entryway with what are now thriving members of their growing plant family.
Adinah was very excited to be able to bring home the new plants, giving some of them names and making name tags for them. “It’s so good for me and Adinah because we take our plants out every morning, and we bring them back in, and water them and talk to them . . . it keeps us busy in a good way,” said Brianne. “It’s really fun because she wakes up in the morning and she will notice how much more her potato has grown…we have this flower in our house we’ve been growing, and it’s taller than her now, and she just loves it!”
In addition to giving her and her daughter something they can work on together, Brianne also told us that she values having the plants to take care of because it provides some structure to her day, gives her a sense of purpose, and even gives her a reason to get up in the morning.
“It’s nice out in the morning,” said Brianne, referring to her daily ritual of watering the garden and bringing her potted plants outside to get some sun. “I never knew how nice it was in the morning until I got the garden…it’s so peaceful.’”
Brianne told us that because of the high prices of produce in the community, growing some of your own vegetables can be a good alternative to buying them at the store. However, she mentioned that while there is an interest in gardening in the community (she spoke about another woman with a box garden posting pictures of her vegetables on social media), some people don’t realize that they are able to grow plants in Northern Manitoba.
“People say it’s always too cold here and there’s not enough sun, but in the garden that me and Adinah have, the plants are growing perfect,” said Brianne. “Our garden is really big, the vegetables are starting to grow really huge now.”
While the financial benefit of having greater access to fresh, affordable produce is easy to see, Brianne also pointed out the other impacts that gardening has had on her life.
“I feel like it’s made the house happier because we have [the plants] here. We really enjoy planting and all our plants that we have.”
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