At LoonSong we are working with a big-picture, long-term outlook in what we do: we want to work in ways that are going to make a difference in our communities and inspire others to transform their communities in relation to food, nutrition and health, and resilience.
Food Security has a household dimension, which is often translated into “food needs to be less expensive so everyone can afford it”. But the true costs of food are not generally reflected in grocery store pricing, and the push for always “cheaper” food most often has detrimental impacts on farmers, farm communities and the environment. So, for us, household food security means that everyone should be able to make a living wage doing something they feel is contributing to society, and be able to access and afford healthy, nutritious, culturally appropriate food. This may be by developing the skills to grow food themselves, trading it with their neighbors, or by purchasing it in their region. For those growing food, this means access to the resources necessary and the ability to derive a meaningful, living wage from the work.
We are also working on the community dimension of food security, which means to work toward understanding what the food needs are in a region, and how as much as possible of the region’s food can be produced nearby using processes and methods based on sensible (and renewable) energy use, and developing the fertility of soils and productive capacity of land and the food/farming community in healthy and sustainable ways.
Out of these intentions Heather is working with several initiatives locally and provincially in education, food security, and community resilience around food:
Manitoulin Child Poverty Task Force www.facebook.com/ChildPovertyTaskForce/
The task force was developed in 2009, after Dr. Val Tarasuk came from Univ. of Toronto to speak at Noojmowin Teg Health Centre on Manitoulin, and a diverse group of professionals and community members wanted to continue to work together to address poverty on Manitoulin Island using wholistic & collaborative approaches that support self-sustaining families & communities. Understanding that food can be at the centre of the challenges and the solutions, food and nutrition has been our focus with this group. With a strong partnership between First Nations and non-first nations community representatives, we have brought a Good Food Box program to Manitoulin, developed a community food security directory, are supporting food growing initiatives for youth and families across Manitoulin, and sharing best practices for building healthy communities.
Sustain Ontario www.sustainontario.com
This provincial network of organizations works on a wide variety of sustainable food and farming issues. The genius of this group is that they help connect and leverage the voices and perspectives of hundreds of smaller groups across the province to build coalitions for policy-making, advocacy, and environmental, economic, and social change in relation to food and farming.
Kids Can Grow
A hands-on education initiative started in 2005 by the Manitoulin Farmers Markets Association, now carried by a grassroots network of farmers and community members. KCG supports teachers and students to grow seedlings in classrooms and community centres across Manitoulin Island, to learn about food growing and to have the experience of then giving back to the community by selling the seedling plants each spring at farmers markets and community events. This has led to formation of several school gardens across Manitoulin, and now to more backyard gardens for kids and families. For more info contact us at LoonSong, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.