OTTAWA—Thanks to a $1 million grant from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Native Women’s Association will launch an innovative program utilizing urban community garden and rooftop greenhouse techniques to revive traditional Indigenous foods and agricultural techniques. The initiative will support food security and create economic opportunity for Indigenous women and gender-diverse people.
“NWAC is so grateful for the support of AAFC for our ground-breaking Indigenous Greenhouse Project. This initiative will help Indigenous women reclaim their traditional knowledge of foods and medicines and pass it on to future generations, while boosting the health and well-being of their communities,” says Lynne Groulx, CEO, Native Women’s Association of Canada.
AAFC funding will support the establishment of a rooftop winterized greenhouse and community garden at NWAC’s Social and Cultural Innovation Centre, opening in downtown Gatineau in the new year. These facilities will grow traditional foods and medicines, training Indigenous women and gender-diverse people on traditional agricultural practices and cultivating traditional medicines.
“Indigenous women have historically been the knowledge keepers of our traditional foods and medicines. However, this knowledge is in danger of being lost due to the ongoing effects of colonialism, pollution of our traditional lands and waters and the introduction of western processed foods—a major contributor to poor health outcomes for our people,” adds Groulx.
Informed by and in partnership with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers and agricultural experts the project will ultimately be scalable to a national level. The knowledge and agricultural techniques developed through this program will be incorporated into print and digital resources to empower Indigenous communities across the country to create their own greenhouses and gardens, enhancing Indigenous food systems and security while reconnecting them with their culture and traditions.
The fresh foods produced in NWAC’s greenhouse facility will also supply a catering kitchen, where Indigenous women and gender-diverse peoples will gain valuable experience in the culinary industry, promoting economic empowerment.