Food quality and food security are a big part of feeling resilient. As a result, there are many food actions for households and collective actions including planting trees, food forests, gardens, greenhouses, cold storage, a community kitchen and creating a community composting program.
Become a Community Food Mentor
Do you want to become further engaged in community food actions? Take the Community Food Mentor Program training and become a CFM! Find out more from Food for All NB at; https://foodforallnb.ca/cfm/program/about
1. Plant edible trees and food forests
Planting edible trees (fruit, nuts) and shrubs (berries) that are suited to our local climate can help increase food security and provide a source of healthy foods. Edible trees can be planted in your own backyard, in a community orchard or a food forest. A food forest can contain diverse edible trees, shrubs and perennials. Food forests sequester carbon and also regenerate the soil, can better tolerate drought, help absorb runoff, increase biodiversity, support pollinators, and buffer against climate change. Food forests can use permaculture design techniques and require less energy to maintain because they mimic a natural forest environment. Food forests need less water and fertilizers than traditional gardens which saves energy and reduces emissions. Growing more food sustainably and locally will help reduce emissions from transportation. According to a recent NB Food Security Action Network Report, New Brunswick only produces 7% of the vegetables we consume. The pandemic has shown vulnerabilities which will be made worse with climate change impacts leading to supply chain disruptions. Planting more edible trees can be done at home, school, work and across the community. A demonstration food forest was planted in the Sackville Community Garden by Community Forests International staff many years ago and continues to grow well. Local resources include Community Forest International, EOS Eco-Energy, Understory Farms, the Sackville Community Garden and the Black Duck Café who planted their own food forest garden to supply their cafe.
What to plant in a food forest in NB:
Horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, oyster mushrooms, creeping thyme, strawberries, perennial greens like sorrel, medicinal flowers like comfrey and calendula, shrubs like elderberry and highbush blueberries, Saskatoons (service berries), hazelnuts, apple trees, and butternut trees.
For more information: check out Food for the future
2. Plant a garden
Gardening has so many benefits including healthy local food grown with little impact. Gardening can be a great stress reliever. Whether it is in a back yard, a balcony or even a windowsill, many people can grow at least some of their own food. School gardens are a great learning tool for students and a way to help supply the school cafeteria with healthy locally grown ingredients. For those who need more space, there are community garden plots. Another way to enhance community resilience is to have enough community garden space for everyone who wants to grow their own food. If you would like a garden plot, contact the Sackville Community Garden to see about availability. Another idea could be to establish more community gardens throughout town.
3. Build a greenhouse
Greenhouses would allow residents and restaurants to extend the growing season beyond what they can currently do at the Community Garden or in their backyards and balconies. Greenhouses could be built in backyards (such as a small hoop frame) or at schools to supply cafeterias with sustainable, healthy, local foods. A community greenhouse is another great idea and would need a group of citizens to coordinate it, find a location, and a community grant. A community greenhouse could assist those living in apartments and others unable to have their own. Open Sky currently operates a greenhouse on their property for their programming. A community greenhouse could be a meeting place, a place to share knowledge and cooperate. It could extend the benefits of the Community Garden to more of the year.
Open Sky Cooperative is using solar panels for power and geothermal energy for heating the farmhouse, as part of the necessary shift away from fossil fuel consumption’s pollution. Open Sky also practices sustainable organic agriculture for growing food locally in Sackville, New Brunswick, which results in less energy and fuel consumption to get food onto your plate—also known as “Farm-To- Table”. – Open Sky
4. Build a cold storage
Cold storage spaces in basements would allow residents to store their root vegetables, etc. over the winter months. A community cold storage space could also allow those without the space or appropriate set up in small homes or apartments to be more self-sufficient. Innovative design possibilities include burying shipping containers underground or under a pile of fill planted with grass, lining with insulation, installing off-grid solar air circulation system, shelving and other features. Groups such as EOS Eco-Energy could be approached to help with this idea.
5. Create a local food hub and collective kitchen
The establishment of a collective kitchen space could lead to the creation of a community food hub. Such a space could be used for community cooking events, food preservation workshops, communal canning events, cooking and baking workshops, sharing of traditional skills, and more. Storage and processing of local foods could also take place in such a facility. Funding a group to spearhead the kitchen would be needed. It could be housed in a community centre which also has space for other non- profits, and/or a permanent space for the Sackville Farmers Market.
Composting is an important part of creating a sustainable, self-sufficient community. Decreasing the amount of food waste transported to Eco360 waste sorting facility in Moncton would save the Town of Sackville money and reduce transportation and landfill emissions. Community composting closes the loop on food production and creates a valuable local product used to grow more food locally. A variety of composting program options exist. More backyard composting bin bulk purchases could be organized. EOS Eco-Energy has coordinated two bulk deals and offered composting workshops in the past. Programs that allow apartment dwellers, businesses and others to drop off (or have picked up) food scraps to be used by gardeners, farmers, local schools, etc. could be an option. A community composting program could be organised where residents and businesses drop off compost at a central community site to be used by anyone who needs it. A location would be needed to house the compost and an organization or group of residents would be needed to manage the compost to ensure proper maintenance.
To get started with composting at home visit: Composting-at-Home-Brochure
Continue Reading: Green Spaces