From Band-Aids to Bridges: Food Security in Grey Bruce

Efforts in 2018 to transform food banks to community food centres saw Food Security Action Group members supporting community kitchens, gardens, food gleaning and a new partnership with FoodRescue.ca  – an online platform connecting businesses with surplus food products to non-for-profit agencies with food programs.  In 2019, we shall be focused on increasing the registration of Grey Bruce donors (farmers, producers, restaurants, grocery stores) and recipients (food banks, hot meal programs, community kitchens, etc.).

Through a grant from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce the Second Harvest program were able to purchase food processing tools for food banks.

Food Security meetings were hosted by Grey Bruce Health Unit, Bruce Botanical Food Gardens in Ripley, CMHA’s Community Food Forest in Owen Sound and M’Wikwedong NCRC to share best practices and exchange ideas.  In 2019, we shall continue our food security conversations with new communities under the Food Security Hub Project funded by the United Way of Bruce Grey in partnership with the Grey Bruce Sustainability Network.

We hosted our Fall Food Gathering in partnership with the Grey Bruce Sustainability Network focused  on the intersections between food, mental health, and the environment.  is important that people come to our community food hubs and know that they have been heard.   While Dave Roy and Alison Govier from CMHA Grey Bruce shared with us Where to Begin with mental health services and programs in Grey Bruce – they also helped to “de-expert” our roles. Plans are underway for the 2019 Fall Food Gathering which shall highlight the results of the Food Security Hub Project.

We saw a merger of our Bruce Grey Food Asset Map with the Agri-Asset Map.  Moving forward we shall continue to add food asset data with partners.

Presentations to lower tier municipalities resulted in 2 new municipal endorsements of our Bruce Grey Food Charter. In 2019, the Food Security Action Group shall be increasing its road trips to lower tier municipalities to speak on the food security + housing + transportation and seeking new endorsements.

Nutritious Food Basket Survey 2018

The end of the year saw the Nutritious Food Basket Survey released for Grey Bruce.  In Grey Bruce, the annual Nutritious Food Basket survey recognizes the local cost to eat well. Measuring the true cost of food in local stores, the 2018 survey identifies that a family of four requires $204.16 each week to meet basic food needs.

One in five children across Grey County and Bruce County live in a low income household, while 6.5% of households sometimes or often run out of food before they can afford to buy more.

Traditional food charity cannot address the root cause of household food insecurity: poverty. There is a need for change. The solution lies in an income response that include access to safe and affordable housing.

 

 

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More than the Ripley Apple to Discover at the Bruce Botanical Food Garden

Mikayla Smailes at the Bruce Botanical Food Gardens

By Mikayla Smailes, Dietetic Intern

Do you enjoy freshly picked produce? Take a short trip to Ripley and gain bonus passport punches at the Bruce Botanical Food Garden! I am a Dietetic Practicum Student with Grey Bruce Public Health. On Tuesday July 10, I had the pleasure of accompanying the Food Security Action Group as they discovered the gardens and their programming. Nan Grant, a volunteer with the BBFG, and Amber, a summer student, guided us through 250 different species of edible, organic plants. Both shared their passion for the gardens and for promoting food security in our region.   

As we travelled through the garden, Nan described how it was designed as a “body of health,” which organizes plants with similar health benefits together. In the garden, one “body of health” is dedicated to the digestive system; in this area thyme, basil, and lavender are planted together. As I explored the garden I noticed that the aroma of the many plants, especially the lavender, was healing in itself.

Bruce Botanical Food Gardens

The BBFG is a not-for-profit organization that describes themselves as being “small but mighty.” For the past 6 years they have welcomed the community to explore the 1 acre garden. Last year alone they had over 4,000 visitors. This garden has become a tourist attraction as it is solely comprised of heirloom and heritage plants grown from seeds that have been “pure for at least 100 years.”  During my visit I was introduced to many new plants, including gooseberries, lovage, golden raspberries and the Ripley Apple. I was delighted to learn that the Ripley Apple is a new apple species that was selected by 324 community taste tasters from the wild varieties discovered near the old Ripley rail-line, and is now featured at the BBFG. The apple represents “the strength of community”, and more importantly “the strength of Ripley.”

The Ripley apple is not the only way community members have helped build the gardens. The BBFG encourages any community member to join in planting, harvesting, and maintaining the garden’s sustainability. Have you ever wanted to learn about saving seeds, harvesting and cooking with fresh herbs? Knowledgeable volunteers also promote food literacy by hosting cooking classes and workshops. The BBFG relies on their partnerships with Bruce County, Huron-Kinloss, the Old Order Mennonite community, local church groups, schools, the private sector, and local families in need. The BBFG is always open to explore new opportunities to team up with other organizations to promote healthy communities. This living market operates with the support of dedicated volunteers, the generosity of local organizations, and the donations of visitors. The BBFG accepts donations, but encourage the public to enjoy the bounty of the garden even if you are unable to donate. This space is for everyone to experience and I’m already looking forward to my next visit!