MoCreebec Eeyoud, Ontario
Year(s) Funded: 2018-2019 and 2019-2020
Topic Area: Food Security
Title: The Living, Learning Leading Garden Project: Building on Tradition, Sharing the Harvest
Project Summary 2018-2019:
Moose Factory First Nation – MoCreebec Eeyoud implemented “The Living and Learning Leading Garden Project” during the 2018-19 growing season. The project was a success allowing MoCreebec Eeyoud and the Cree Village Ecolodge to provide improvement to quality of life for members of the community. It was an opportunity for the Cree Village Ecolodge, and by extension the MoCreebec Eeyoud community to lead successfully in climate and health adaptation. Over the course of the project, the community found success in terms of the level and depth of learning opportunities that had occurred. The main adaptation comes from a recognition that possibly the best way to adapt to climate when it comes to gardening is to create a protected micro-climate, i.e. greenhouses. The greenhouse that used in 2018 by far exceeded expectations and produced better produce, for longer than any of the other garden plots. Throughout the project and other funding streams was MoCreebec able to acquire three greenhouses. These three greenhouses will position the Cree Village Ecolodge to have much better yields of vulnerable species, e.g. tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, and peppers. The project staff conducted some research on means of reducing weeding, improving soil temperatures (climate adaptation), and reducing damage from wind (climate adaptation) and animals walking across or otherwise disturbing the garden plots. The solution found was to implement garden mats. Garden mats were sourced and purchased for the three main, in-ground garden plots and the straw bales at the Cree Village Ecolodge. The mats are of a dark color, which will help retain heat in the soil and prevent damage from mid-season frosts. The climate research allowed us to gather a baseline for the growing conditions here locally. The growing season had its challenges and we have the climate data to prove it.
Project Summary 2019-2020:
The Living, Learning Leading Garden Project: Building on Tradition, Sharing the Harvest Project set out to develop a set of baseline data based on key climate indicators such as rainfall, air temperature and sky conditions. Data was initially collected on a daily basis between May 13th and October 31st, 2018. The data collection was repeated again in 2019 between May 13th and October 31st. The two years of baseline data provided a means of conducting further analysis in comparison with climate data from future years. Understanding the normal variations in climate that can be expected is essential for hedging the risks of planting new species of crops. This project provided the opportunity to set the baseline for what can be expected. It provided the knowledge to start adapting to climate changes in a way that reduces risks and increases potential for health adaptation. Tours were provided to: elders and guests staying at the Cree Village Ecolodge; individuals living in Moose Factory on a temporary basis (e.g. hospital); families from the community interested in showing their children the gardens as an educational activity; and staff from other community organizations. Additionally, there were a number of successful efforts in bringing students to the gardens. These were well received and resulted in growing interest on the part of schools in getting involved in the garden initiative in future years. High school students and Junior Canadian Rangers were brought to the gardens to assist with planting and harvesting. A guided tour was also provided to a number of elementary school classes during the fall harvest. There are plans to have elementary grade classes become more involved in the planting and harvesting seasons (in 2020), as part of the school curriculum.