Growing Food Gardens in Stuartburn
and Emerson-Franklin Area
Responding to a growing interest to buy and grow more local foods the Woodmore Women's Institute Food Security Initiative continues to offer learning events. Here is what happened this spring and summer.
On May 1, at the Roseau River Park Hall, a sizable group of eager gardeners met to exchange plants and hear from four local gardeners. Woodmore WI members from Roseau River, Jean Charney and Brenda Dyck, gave a garden primer to help new gardeners get started. More experienced gardeners came to hear Jenafor Siemens, from Woodmore, share her secrets for growing sweet potatoes in our Manitoba climate, followed by Peter Elias from Roseau River who talked about the Crop Rotation Gardening method he uses. The evening came to a close with a lively perennial and annual plant exchange. There is talk that the exchange should happen again next year. Please let us know if you or someone you know would have something interesting to share at next year's plant exchange.
At our June 11 event, our instructor was Penny Roy, gardener and herbalist from the St. Malo area. A large group of learners met on Tim and Janet Kroeker's acreage near Roseau River. Penny introduced the group to growing, foraging and preparing plants for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Besides bringing many specimens from her garden and wild areas to show and tell, the evening included a guided walkabout through garden, meadow and forest to help us to identify useful plants. The evening ended with a plant sale from Penny's greenhouse.
Our 5th annual food garden tour took place the evening of July 17. We began at Matt & Susi Teichrob's acreage near Roseau River. Their ever-expanding orchard and gardens are supplying a greater amount of their fruit and vegetable needs every year. The gardens included a Hügelkultur bed- a technique where a mound constructed from decaying wood debris and other compostable, biomass plant materials is later planted as a fertile hilly bed.
Next, we visited Edwin and Aviel Janzen's new goat dairy, called Creekside Dairy, near Gardenton. Edwin gave us some goat milk to try – the reviews were top notch. Next door Edwin's brother Leo and Anita Janzen showed us their large and very productive food garden, including several green houses. They were employing some smart practices to lengthen the outdoor growing season.
Our tour ended at Jenafor and Andy Siemens' off grid property near Woodmore. They raise most of their own vegetables in their well-stocked garden. Jenafor showed us a healthy and thriving bed of sweet potatoes. She wasn't bluffing when she told us about her success growing sweet potatoes at our May 1stevent. There continues to be an interest in learning how other people food garden. We are always happy to find new people who want to show their garden. Please let us know if you or someone you know would like to show a garden at next year’s food garden tour.
Our last learning food event was again hosted by Jenafor and Andy Siemens on August 15. This time focus was on food preservation. We surveyed our past participant mailing list and based on highest interest; we built our workshop around 4 methods. Susi Teichroeb demonstrated pressure canning. She prepared a bear meat stew that, when properly preserved, can sit in your food pantry until you crack the lid – homemade delicious convenience food!
Jenafor Siemens demonstrated fermenting which besides cabbage, included vegetables such as radishes, beans and cucumbers. Jenafor prefers dehydrating many of her vegetables, fruits, teas and herbs for cooking, so that the healthy enzymes stay intact, and no energy is needed to keep these foods safely preserved. Andy showed us their simple solar dehydrator, easily built with basic carpentry skills. Andy also toured the group through their two-room cellaring system used to keep their winter produce such as onions, potatoes, carrots and apples.
A butchering workshop is being planned for late fall. If you would like to be notified about upcoming food learning events – email Janet Kroeker @ firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-427-3524.
Children's Backyard Gardening
Wrapped up for another Year
Our annual harvest feast was a colourful cornucopia of garden bounty. Some of our junior gardeners and their families as well as interested community folks, gathered Saturday September 7th to share garden inspired potluck style dishes.
The harvest feast marks the end of the 5th annual Children's Backyard Gardening program facilitated by the Woodmore Women's Institute Food Security Initiative in partnership with teachers from Roseau Valley School in Dominion City and Shevchenko School in Vita,
Many of the gardeners arrived with a variety of produce harvested from their gardens to show to the assembled guests. One young gardener, when asked what his star performer was, said, "The zucchini – you should have seen how big it got!”
Before the feast, all the junior gardeners were invited to a cooking lesson where they learned to make quesadillas and salsa with produce from the garden.
Our teacher mentors made several visits throughout the summer. Jamie Felsch, from RVS, visited gardeners on the west side and Pam Storoschuk, from Shevchenko, visited those on the east. Children were challenged by many of the things that challenge all gardeners – weeds that want to outgrow our plants, lack of rain and unwelcome visitors such as deer, smaller critters and flying insects. Jamie and Pam gave our young gardeners much needed guidance and encouragement.
We believe strongly in introducing food gardening to young children at this naturally curious stage of life. To nurture and care for a small plant or seed, and watch it flourish into something that you can eat, is an ordinary occurrence and yet magical when you see it happen in front of your eyes. Parents and grandparents have found that it's an antidote to screen time and becomes a bonding time between them and the children.
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