We support two community gardens in Wagmatcook and Esgenoôpetitj with seeds, supplies and greenhouses. In Wagmatcook families can have their own raised beds. Students and families are learning the skills of gardening again. We also held workshops on herbal plants and how to butcher and can moose meat and veggies. Food is given out to elders and families.
"Potatoes: You can grow potatoes in a pile of grass clippings. Put straw on top. In the fall can just clear straw away and you have really clean potatoes. No digging needed. Potatoes need full sun. You can also grow them in buckets. Drill holes in bottom for drainage. ¼ inch holes about 8 holes. "
Gardening for Beginners (rough notes)
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Judy Googoo on the importance of the Community Garden and food sovereignty:
“The food is literally killing us with diabetes, heart problems and things we never had. And even young children have diabetes due to the food we eat. They have old people diseases. I started the garden because of these health problems. I have been introducing our traditional diet starting with young children and youth all my life. We even get kids to go fishing and eat what they catch and I see them eating fresh farm eggs for the first time. We go on the land and introduce them to blackberries, strawberries, apples, hazelnuts and more that have never been introduced by anybody until us. We teach them hunting and fishing, canoeing, collecting shellfish and cook them all on the beach. We teach them that you don’t hunt or fish during times when our animals are having babies (natural law). We teach them language, words that are all forgotten. We translate English and Mikmaq language. We are on numerous elder committees so our language is preserved. We do moccasin, drum, beading, animal hide, food preservation teachings. We are teaching them the way we were raised. It’s important to go back to the way we used to eat because people are dying here on our Reserve in their 40’s and younger. My grandmother and grandfather were 107 and 108 because they only lived off the land. This is how I know we need to go back to those ways.”
“If we don’t teach them how to go back then they will suffer. We have to catch them as youth, stop them, and redirect them to the way our ancestors lived if they want to live longer. We are running out of elders and that is why it is important that we do something for our children. It’s not enough to teach them just the language, we have to teach them to be L’nu again. Culture is important but staying alive is just as important and that is our culture.”
“I literally teach them how to cast a rod to fish. I go on the ground myself to teach them to pick berries because they have lost all that knowledge. When we were young our parents would let us go out and pick berries but they would teach us exactly what to eat. When we picked hazelnuts they taught us how to pick them and roll them in the sand with our foot so we could eat them. Even with fire, we have to teach them to respect the fire. I show them how to pick cherries. life I was handling flat fish that have a barb that is poisonous and I teach those kids the same way my mom told me and I explain to them why they have to handle them that way. I teach them how to flesh fish because each fish needs to be gutted a different way.”
Judy on teaching the youth our natural law:
“Around April you have to stop catching smelts because they will tell you when they are not good anymore. Their scales will come up and they go up river to spawn, their flesh is white and their nutrients aren’t good any more. You only hunt September until November because the moose or deer are mating and after the winter months you don’t touch them because they are carrying babies. We follow the natural law. You don’t touch salmon in the spring. You don’t collect root medicines when they are growing. You wait till fall. I teach them all these things about our natural law.”
“It’s more than just a community garden, it’s a way of life. Everything is important. It is like the medicine wheel, when one element is off balance the other elements will suffer.”
Judy sharing seeds.
The start of the green house
Joe starting mushrooms.