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.
Because of a lack of transportation infrastructure, Old Crow has the highest food costs and greatest reliance on traditional food species for sustenance of any community in Canada's Yukon Territory. Environmental, cultural, and economic change are driving increased perception of food insecurity in Old Crow.
To address community concerns regarding food security and supply in Old Crow and develop adaptation strategies to ameliorate their impact on the community.
A community adaptation workshop was held on October 13, 2009, in which representatives of different stakeholders in the community discussed a variety of food security issues facing Old Crow and how they could be dealt with. Workshop data were analyzed using keyword, subject, and narrative analysis techniques to determine community priorities in food security and adaptation.
Community concern is high and favored adaptation options include agriculture, improved food storage, and conservation through increased traditional education. These results were presented to the community for review and revision, after which the Vuntut Gwitchin Government will integrate them into its ongoing adaptation planning measures.