It's Sustainability Month! This October, we're profiling FortWhyte staff and volunteers to find out what they're doing to live sustainably.
Debbie is FortWhyte Farms' Leadership Training Coordinator. Check out her tips for how you can serve a more sustainable Thanksgiving meal by eating seasonal produce and supporting local farmers.
I was raised on a farm with a big garden, but as a working mom with three young kids I can attest that eating seasonally presents its challenges! But we are lucky in Manitoba because there are many ways to connect to food and the land on an economic, spiritual, and/or emotional level, that link celebration of good food and healthy communities. Here are a few things we can do to get to know more about Manitoba’s breadbasket, and still get a moderately good night’s sleep!
Get to know the issues facing Manitoba farmers
Prairie agriculture is very important worldwide because many of our farmers and growers export crops that feed the world. Farmers care a lot about land, the environment and community. Whether a farm produces thousands of bushels for export or an acre of heirloom veggies for direct sales, both are great examples of how farmers take care of the land, boost the local economy, and ensure future generations of food producers thrive in Manitoba.
Action: You can get to know farmers by subscribing to the Manitoba Cooperator, visiting Open Farm Day for free in September, or joining one of the many organizations supporting farmers in Manitoba seeking associate membership, including the National Farmer’s Union, the Manitoba Organic Alliance, Keystone Agricultural Producers, or research facilities like the U of M Farm and Food Discovery Centre.
Eat good food, close to the source
There are lots of ways to ‘eat local’ and a great way to start is by visiting one of the many farmer’s markets in Manitoba throughout the summer. There is a market every day of the week! At FortWhyte Farms, for example, our Market is on Tuesdays - but you can also visit our website to purchase bulk veggies throughout the season as well as fresh honey, humane-raised livestock, and other value added products like medicinal teas and jams.
Action: check out all the farmer’s market listings at www.directfarmmb.com.
Take time to say thanks
When I was in my early twenties I spent time in Kenya where my surrounding community struggled to meet the minimum caloric requirements due to extreme poverty. Fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and protein rich foods were extremely scarce. In North America most of us take the diversity of food available to us for granted. This experience really opened my eyes to the reality of food insecurity and how it threatens people all over the world in a different way.
Action: If you are fortunate to be someone who is able to fill your plate this Thanksgiving with a plethora of diverse foods, consider donating to Winnipeg Harvest (http://winnipegharvest.org) and The Foodgrains Bank ( https://foodgrainsbank.ca/) or FortWhyte Farms Food and Nutrition Programs (https://www.fortwhytefarms.com/donate/) so that others in our city and in our world can also share in good, healthy food. Before you eat, look at your plate and think about all the different foods that make up your meal. Take time for gratitude - thank the land, the farmers and everything that brought you nourishment and energy for another day.