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Community Participation In Successful Northern Healthy Foods Initiative Expands: Wowchuk

Manitoba News Release
October 16, 2007
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World Food Day Celebrated At Northern Food Forum

THOMPSON-Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk reinforced the province’s commitment to promote access to healthy and nutritious foods in northern neighbourhoods and celebrated its expansion to new regions at the Northern Harvest Forum here today.

“I commend the efforts of all the communities who are working together to promote access to healthy foods including sharing information on northern agriculture and continuing to develop greenhouse and field crop operations in northern Manitoba,” said Wowchuk. “Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) is proud to be one of the many partners that recognizes the importance of working together to promote healthy food.”Wowchuk is scheduled to speak tonight at St. Joseph Hall as part of the two-day Northern Harvest Forum which involves workshops on food processing and preserving, community gardening, school nutrition and community participation.

Through the Northern Healthy Foods Initiative, the province co-ordinates several community- supported projects to promote nutrition and build capacity to access healthy foods.

Building on the success of the 2006 regional projects involving 18 communities, participation has grown to five regional projects involving 27 remote communities across northern Manitoba.

The minister noted this year new partners were welcomed into the ‘grow north’ family. Eight communities in the Parklands region including Camperville, Waterhen, Rock Ridge, Skownan First Nation, Duck Bay, Mallard, Crane River and Pine Creek First Nation developed community gardens and family garden plots. Staff from MAFRI co-ordinated food preservation workshops.

A new partnership with Frontier School Division involved the promotion of healthy foods and traditional food gathering through its curriculum support of gardening and construction of greenhouses. This year the Thompson Zoo also provided assistance to local organizations to promote and host garden space for schools and other organizations.
The minister noted that some of the projects already underway through the initiative include:

– completing a successful garden season involving 27 communities;

– developing and supporting poultry production in two remote northern communities;

– offering families assistance to buy freezers to store traditional foods in remote communities;

– establishing and continuing the direct food-buying system in Island Lake communities;

– working with Burntwood Regional Health Authority and Four Arrows Health Authority to promote healthy foods and lifestyles;

– establishing skills and infrastructure for making and selling honey;

– establishing food-processing skills for freezing, pickling and safe long-term food storage;

– exploring skills to prepare traditional foods such as smoked fish, moose and pemmican, and harvesting healing plants and teas; and

– establishing several community gardens and greenhouses.

The conference in Thompson supported by the provincial government features a wide variety of workshops and display booths promoting increased local food gathering and production.

“It is vital to embrace the knowledge of health through processing and preparing traditional food,” said Wowchuk. “Passing on this expertise to our youth ensures that future generations have the skills they need to grow and eat healthy food.”

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