By Maddy Mitchell
When the Rocket Greens Project launched, it took off with a blast. The community of Churchill was immensely receptive to the idea of having fresh, locally grown, affordable produce year-round. We have consistently providing Launch Box leafy green subscriptions to around 50 households each week and have been stocking the grocery store shelves with lettuce, spinach, kale and a variety of herbs. The hospital cafeteria has also been supporting the project by receiving fresh greens each week for their residents and staff. In the years following this success, the Rocket Greens team has been working hard to further help in strengthening community development and fighting for food sovereignty in the north. Part of this goal takes the form of knowledge sharing and giving the public the tools (and seeds) they need to shape their connections with food and foodways.
This spring, roughly 1000 seeds have been sown at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre with the goal of distributing them free of charge to local gardeners. By having them grown in the loving care of Churchill residents’ homes and gardens our aim is to provide early support to folks interested in trying a hand at northern home container gardening. Corn, tomato, pepper, brussels sprouts, and zucchini seedlings were shared with the community allowing us to not only give the gift of food that these plants provide, but also all the other immense benefits that come with helping a plant through its life cycle. Gardening and caring for plants helps us to connect with nature, and develop a familiarity and respect for the efforts involved in food production, not to mention reducing our dependence on foods brought from far distances to our community. Our seedling giveaways allowed us to interact with the community, share our knowledge, and listen to the stories of local gardeners and novice growers on best practices for growing in northern conditions.
It’s no secret that Churchill weather and soil conditions can often feel like insurmountable barriers for local gardeners. We hope to tackle these barriers through the construction of community greenhouses. Thanks to the generosity of our many partners including the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture and Community Collaborative and Nutrients for Life, the Rocket Greens team will have the opportunity to construct 3 small greenhouses this summer to help community members connect with foodways, and actively take part in their own food system. These productive plant nurseries will be developed at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, the School, and the Churchill Warrior Caregiver Program. Local youth and other residents will have the opportunity to learn more about food production and the numerous benefits fresh, local foods can have for individuals and communities. Members will be given the knowledge, skills, and abilities to grow healthy foods which will help to increase food security and reduce environmental impacts associated with food production and transportation helping work towards food sovereignty. By having growers work together to attain this goal, we hope to encourage a connection between members, as well as between people and the environment.
Through seedling giveaways, greenhouses, and gardening knowledge and skill sharing, we can work to grow community development and gardens in Churchill, to achieve a common goal; increasing access to adequate, healthy and affordable local foods. If one resident goes hungry, the community as a whole suffers. Churchill is a resilient and strong town because of the tightknit community that comes together to support each and every member. There are many ways to show people care, and one way is by helping them access foods that will nourish their body and spirit, and fuel their future goals. This is what
the Rocket Greens Project aims to do with the seedling and greenhouse projects; care for our community.