Gameti's garden grows, adds goats and chickens

Gameti’s 38 chickens and four goats — the latest additions to the community’s garden — are attracting a lot of attention, and not just for the food they will eventually provide.

N.W.T. community works at growing its own food

The community garden in Gameti, N.W.T., is one of the territory's largest. Last year the garden produced more than 560 kilograms of food for the community. (Rachel Zelniker/CBC)

Gameti's 38 chickens and four goats — the latest additions to the community's garden — are attracting a lot of attention, and not just for the food they will eventually provide.

"All the kids, they wanted to see," said Leon Weyellon. "Even older people they come around and look at them. They're interesting. Like, we always see it on television but now it's here."

Stella Quitte feeds the chickens outside Judal Domincata's home. She says at first she was afraid to go inside the coop, but now she looks forward to it. (Rachel Zelniker/CBC)

The community garden — one of the biggest in the Northwest Territories — is about half the size of a football field, and sits on shore of Gameti Lake. Lettuce, sunflowers, potatoes, chives and other vegetable seeds are germinating in the soil and the community is also trying out less conventional crops, such as rice.

The garden is the brainchild of the senior administrative officer, Judal Dominicata. Domincata earned a PhD in agriculture in his home country of the Philippines. Last year the garden grew more than 560 kilograms of food for the community.

With funding from N.W.T.'s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, he expanded the garden and built a greenhouse, and the community government is paying for four full-time summer staff. A group of students is also going to work there this summer to raise money for a trip to China.

"I think people like it. I think they think it's a good idea," said Cindy Gon, one of the summer staff.

The goats are a big draw for children in the community. Children press their faces up again the fence for a chance to feed them. (Rachel Zelniker/CBC)

"Since I've been working, people have been coming by and asking questions, like what are we planting and what do we do. Other people that work in an office say, 'oh, you work in a garden.' They want to come and check it out; they think it's beautiful and they seem excited."

Lloyd Lamouelle, another employee, says it's an interesting job.

"We make a lot of mistakes, but Judal points us in the right direction. It's hard work, and it's hot, but it's really fun because it's something new every day."

The garden is now technically also a farm with the arrival of the chickens and goats that were brought up on the ice road in April.

"The chickens were really small, and they would have died if they were out in the cold in April, so Judal took them inside his house and took care of them," said Justina Moosenose-Gon, one of the students helping maintain the garden.

Now the animals have their own buildings in the garden, and a heater will be installed.

The entire community came together to plant the garden. Plots are marked by these signs at the end of each row. (Rachel Zelniker/CBC)

Moosenose-Gon says the community's hope is that "instead of sending eggs through Air Tindi, they would make their own eggs here."

The goats will be bred and butchered for meat. Moosenose-Gon says it's going to help her family save money.

"[Instead of] having food sent in a couple of times a month for everyone to buy, we can just grow it and hand it out to the people in the community."

The food will be distributed based on family size and need.