Aki Energy got some big news yesterday!
For the last six months, we've been working with a great team at Garden Hill First Nation, Four Arrows Regional Health Authority and the University of Manitoba to dream big - creating a sustainable, affordable food system in Garden Hill First Nation that honours traditional foods and creates opportunities for local employment.
Meechim Inc. was born. Meechim Inc will be a social enterprise owned and controlled by the community in Garden Hill. The Board of Meechim is composed entirely of Garden Hill First Nation community members, with new members elected annually at a community feast and annual general meeting, and Meechim Inc. will be managed and staffed by community members. Aki Energy is proud to be providing development support and project management in the first year.
'Meechim' means 'food' in Oji-Cree - a simple name that gets to the core of what this project will be about. Meechim Inc. will work with local producers to grow and raise good food in the community - expanding the gardening and small scale livestock raising that is already happening with great success in the community. There will be beans and squash, potatoes and Saskatoon berries. We will be raising chickens, and possibly turkeys and rabbits - starting small and building up.
Meechim Inc. will also be hosting a monthly farmers market in Kistiganwacheeng Elementary school, that will offer a central place to sell harvested foods from the Meechim Farm, as well as fresh pickerel harvested in the community by the Garden Hill Fisher's Co-op, locally baked bannock and other foods, supplemented by affordable healthy foods shipped in from the South.
So, what's the big news? (Drumroll please...) Yesterday, Aki Energy found out that this project has received start-up funding from the Manitoba Northern Healthy Foods Initiative! All our thanks to them for believing in this project. We've been waiting for this news a long time, and it means that over the next year all of our planning will be put into action!
We are wasting no time in getting started! In just a few weeks, we will be launching our first Farmers Market - just in time for Christmas! We'll be in the Kistiganwacheeng Elementary School gym, selling locally made bannock and granola as well as healthy and affordable foods shipped in from Winnipeg. This is just the beginning, but we are very excited to be getting started!
This project is exciting, but it's not altogether new. The community at Garden Hill First Nation has been growing and harvesting food from this land for a very long time. Check out this gallery of some of the local foods already being harvested in Garden Hill First Nation.