Aboriginal health learning in the forest and cultivated gardens: building a nutritious and sustainable food system.
J Agromed 2009 Apr; 14(2):263-269
Sustainable food systems are those in which diverse foods are produced in close proximity to a market. A dynamic, adaptive knowledge base that is grounded in local culture and geography and connected to outside knowledge resources is essential for such food systems to thrive. Sustainable food systems are particularly important to remote and Aboriginal communities, where extensive transportation makes food expensive and of poorer nutritional value. The Learning Garden program was developed and run with two First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario. With this program, the team adopted a holistic and experiential model of learning to begin rebuilding a knowledge base that would support a sustainable local food system. The program involved a series of workshops held in each community and facilitated by a community-based coordinator. Topics included cultivated gardening and forest foods. Results of survey data collected from 20 Aboriginal workshop participants are presented, revealing a moderate to low level of baseline knowledge of the traditional food system, and a reliance on the mainstream food system that is supported by food values that place convenience, ease, and price above the localness or cultural connectedness of the food. Preliminary findings from qualitative data are also presented on the process of learning that occurred in the program and some of the insights we have gained that are relevant to future adaptations of this program.
Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Demographic-characteristics; Environmental-factors; Farmers; Food; Food-handlers; Qualitative-analysis; Questionnaires; Racial-factors;
Author Keywords: Aborigina; cultivated gardening; food security; forest foods; health; learning; place
Mirella L. Stroink, PhD, Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 5E1, Canada
Journal of Agromedicine