Nutrition through Engagement and Agricultural Technologies

PROJECT OVERVIEW:

Nutrition through Engagement and Agricultural Technologies (N-EAT) is a Pacific Water Research Centre project that works with First Nations communities in British Columbia, Canada. N-EAT's purpose is to enhance nations' self-reliance on nutritious and organic foods, while ensuring sustainable access to water and energy. This project takes a holistic approach and looks to build upon and expand local and traditional knowledge. It seeks to ensure that these communities are resilient against the environmental and social stresses caused by climate change.

More than 4 million Canadians (1.5 million children) struggle with food security. Lack of access to nutrition contributes to a plethora of concerns...diminished activity, aggravated social deconstruction, vulnerability to illness, degraded retention. Through its innovative programming and collaborative model which enhances partnerships (SDG 17) between communities, governments, corporations, academia, and NGO's, N-EAT seeks to lead in the permanent guarantee of national and international nutrition and wellness, leaving no one behind.

In 2019, N-EAT focused on the Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nation, located in Klemtu, BC. This community primarily relies on eco-tourism and aquaculture to support their economy. A 40 ft by 20 ft greenhouse was built in Klemtu a few years ago but was not operational until N-EAT, along with local champions activated the greenhouse and built a community garden. A master gardener from Embark Sustainability ran workshops with students and adults, building intergenerational enthusiasm as families learned and gardened together.

N-EAT continues to support Klemtu in achieving local, sustainable food production and engaging the community in educational activities and expansion projects to increase local growing capacity and build on lessons learned from last year.

GREENHOUSE & COMMUNITY GARDEN:

A greenhouse was previously built in Klemtu but was not used due to a number of factors. The N-EAT team collaborated with leadership and local community members in Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nation to revitalize the greenhouse in 2019. Local champions and N-EAT team members are working together to further expand the capacity of the greenhouse to operate all year.

A community garden was created outside the greenhouse in 2019 and is managed by the local Garden Coordinator with the support of local gardeners and volunteers. The outdoor community garden engages families and friends in the local food growing program, providing opportunities for people of all ages to learn and grow. Seven garden beds are being added to the community garden in 2020, increasing the local outdoor communal growing capacity by nearly 40%. Community members maintain their rented garden bed throughout the season, and in peak season, harvest a variety of produce. The community garden enhances the community's health and wellbeing, providing nutritious produce and ample space for collaboration and community engagement to take place.

While the Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nation and N-EAT continue to work together to create a sustainable business model in Klemtu, other communities are in consultation with N-EAT to secure similar support from the program. N-EAT delivers custom programming adjustable to meet specific circumstances through community consultation. Offering flexibility through skills training, resource sharing, and mentorship, this allows the program to develop and evolve with each community uniquely. In order to maximize the program's impact, N-EAT engages with mid-phase development opportunities where the community has basic infrastructure at or near completion and is ready to build or enhance a sustainable, local food system.

ENGAGEMENT, EDUCATION & EXPANSION:

N-EAT believes in offering youth-centered development opportunities as part of its programming. The team works with community members to develop school curriculum and activities related to food production and nutrition. These activities aim to get youth excited about and equipped with the skills to garden. Games and social events are used as a fun way to bring the community together in the garden. These activities are further supported by use of social media to provide information on nutrition, food preparation and vegetable production. Follow N-EAT on Instagram and Facebook here.

Youth leadership in Klemtu has been key to steering local engagement and working with N-EAT to achieve success. Through community-led research, several key factors for achieving sustainable food production and a circular economy were identified as missing from the local infrastructure. Young leaders have taken initiative to work with N-EAT resources and engage with government, NGO’s, and private enterprises to address these gaps. Meetings in the legislature have enabled indigenous youth to promote their community and pitch for government funding to expand energy systems and secure mechanisms for industrial composting. Without this crucial infrastructure, the community leans dangerously towards becoming reliant on diesel and a local waste dump that could pose significant health and environmental risks. For these reasons, the work of N-EAT and community leaders is critical to create a sustainable and self-sufficient food system in Klemtu.

Team:

Kerry Gibson

Partnerships Manager

Teghan Acres

Knowledge Coordinator

Sarah Pickering

Fundraising and Logistics Coordinator

Allison Giannaros

Strategic Planner

Esther Robinson

Garden Coordinator (Klemtu, BC)  

Zafar Adeel

PWRC Executive Director

Fiona Hamersley Chambers

Ethnobotanist

Project Partners: