I was very proud to present at this conference, where participants from a variety of backgrounds met to learn in workshops and discussion about gardening, nutrition, wild foods, seed saving and more. It was a great pleasure to work with Mark Peltier and the Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre on Manitoulin Island, an amazing organization that serves 8 First Nations and neighbours too. The day was off to a good start with workshops on worm composting, sprouting, wild edibles and growing plants from kitchen scraps. About 70 people came, from all over the region’s First Nations and many non-indigenous folks as well. Here’s me presenting on the topic of Cultivating Connections:
I met some great people doing amazing work locally. In M’Chigeeng, there’s a community garden that serves mainly seniors, and in seven local schools, mostly First Nations, there’s also a fantastic initiative called Kids Can Grow that helps kids plant seeds and sell or donate the seedlings, or bring them home to plant, supported by Farmers Markets Ontario. Here’s a story about them.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Heather Thoma, farmer and gardener at Loonsong Farm, who has a reputation for bringing people together on the Island and elsewhere. I met her for the first time last year at a conference in Toronto, and she suggested me as a presenter for this conference because of the provincial advocacy work we are doing in the Imagine a Garden in Every School campaign. In the course of our conversation last year, I discovered that Heather, who only distributes her organic oats at one or two Toronto locations, in fact supplies my local store The Nut House – and I’d been eating her oatmeal every morning for two years! When we said goodbye in Little Current last weekend, I joked that I had to get back to Toronto because I missed having her oats for breakfast. (The conference itself, and the amazing Manitoulin Hotel had a lot of good food, but none of it was Heather’s oatmeal.)
I didn’t pick up much Ojibway, but I do know how to say thank you very much, Chi Miigwetch, to Noojmowin-Teg Health Centre for this amazing opportunity.