June can mean many things: it can mean beach days, watermelons under the sun, and since 2009 it has also been a month for us to celebrate Indigenous History in Canada. This month is a time for learning and appreciating Indigenous cultures in Canada. As an organization, we are on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. To celebrate Indigenous History month, we want to highlight the topic of food sovereignty, which we embrace in our community garden.
Food sovereignty is an important concept amongst Indigenous culture. It means that on top of just taking from the land, we are also respectful of the resources we take without being greedy. As many people become more aware of the ecological damage that our current farming methods can do to our soil, growing our own food is becoming more and more attractive. While the language for food sovereignty has only recently been introduced, the concept and the principles of it are what Indigenous peoples have lived by and developed over thousands of years. For example, the A Dish With One Spoon Agreement respects the mutual cooperation between the peoples and the resources of the land.
Plus, it means being able to grow culturally appropriate foods – foods that celebrate cultural dishes from our migrant-rich society. For example, Garlic Chives are native to Southwestern China and are culturally significant to Chinese cuisine (check out delicious recipes here). Unfortunately, they are not farmed in Canada and can be difficult to access. As a solution, many Chinese immigrant families take it upon themselves to garden garlic chives in their own backyard! When we practice food sovereignty, we can plant foods like garlic chives without inaccessibility or a hefty price tag…. Especially as the cost of food is increasing steadily.
Much like the reciprocal relationship that food sovereignty promotes, 5n2 Gardens harbours an appreciation for our food beyond their monetary value. We grow foods like bitter melon, okra, edamame and more to reflect the cultural makeup of our community, and to bridge the detachment we experience with our food. As most of us only associate our produce with a grocery aisle, promoting food sovereignty in gardening allows our community to develop an appreciation for the land which it grew on, and the people who cared for its harvest.
5n2 Gardens project is primarily a volunteer-run hub for promoting food sovereignty as well as community. We want to teach the importance of our food from planting to harvesting. Book a time today on our webpage and let’s get digging!