James Smith plants seeds for improved food security

By Nigel Maxwell
July 11, 2018 - 8:00am

A community driven initiative to promote food security, has begun to blossom near the James Smith Cree Nation.

On Tuesday, a group of community members including elders and youth gathered at the site of a new fruit orchard. Community Dietitian Kelsey Mawaro helped spearhead the project by applying for a grant through Sask. Culture.

"Just to get back to nature and get back to living off the land," she said on what sprouted the idea.

A plot of land, the size of a small football field, was developed just west of the indigenous community off Coxby Road. The community members who showed up on Tuesday were first shown how to plant the trees by horticulture students from Saskatoon, before getting down to work. Mawaro said the initial phase of the orchard this year will include plum and apple trees as well as Saskatoon berries.

'We're planning on having a harvesting day as well in the Fall when everything is ready to be picked so we can engage the youth, the community members, and the elders to come and pick and we are going to have canning workshops," she said.

Community Health Director Mike Marion said the goal of the project is food security.

"I think we all know the cost of food nowadays and we are trying to create the incentive for community members to take some more responsibility and create some food for themselves and sustain themselves over the winter," he said.

Marion said another initiative the band administration took up this year was helping to plant 140 gardens around the community. He said he hopes the community will buy into this project.

"We are looking at expanding next year because if you take a look at what we've got right now we've only used half of what we have developed here," he said.

Chief Calvin Sanderson was also on hand for the ground breaking ceremony on Tuesday, and also helped plant some trees. He said he was very proud of the community's work.

"It's huge for our membership and I'm glad to be here to witness this," he said. 

Sanderson acknowledged the orchard would require a lot of attention and care, but added he thought the orchard would a long term benefit to the entire community.

"My mother-in-law has an apple tree in her yard and you can see all the little kids going to that apple tree and getting apples for themselves and here now [the kids] can come," he said.


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