Monday, 6 July 2015

The Community Garden

By Leah McDonnell, 1st year MDP student

 As a 1st year MDP student, I had the opportunity to pick my first internship inside of Canada. Although my focus of study aims primarily at trafficking and human rights, I decided to pick something that would be a little out of my comfort zone and I wanted to make sure I was working in Winnipeg.  Thus, I decided to intern at NorWest Community Food Centre in the community garden. 

Freshly picked radish

I have been working on contacting a traditional knowledge keeper in order to help the organization grow a traditional medicine garden.  It is a very exciting project, but must be undertaken carefully and gently.  As such, we are in the begging stages of consultation of the garden.  However, I have been very busy with other jobs around the community centre.  I have been thrown into the community kitchen as a chef’s assistant, I have gone to various advocacy meetings at other organizations, I have been working in a beautiful garden (everything from hauling dirt, to building an awning to planting fruits, veggies and flowers) and much more.  All in all I have been having a wonderful time – which for me is the most important.

Leah with red lettuce

The second most important aspect of my placement is that I have been able to work in food security in a lower-income area with a variety of volunteers.  I feel this has given me a much stronger understanding of what issues regarding food security exist in Winnipeg, MB.

The centre I work with uses an alternative method to a food bank – if focuses on a food centre model.  The food centre model creates a community centre that has access to fresh, healthy and nutritious foods and food classes (i.e. learning to cook, cooking while managing diabetes, etc).  The centre allows its members free access to healthy foods that are imperative for a healthy life style. 

Beans and peas

Although, at first I was excited to work specifically on the  Indigenous Medicine Garden, I have thoroughly enjoyed my other activities at the centre.  I adore working in a garden; there is something very calming about it.  In turn, the calmness allows me time to connect to my positionality and gives me plenty of time for self-reflection – key aspects in Indigenous experiential learning.

With the rewarding, but hectic lifestyle of an MDP grad student, I really value my time spent in the garden.


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