Gardening offers key step toward food sovereignty for Sask. First Nation
Saulteaux First Nation Chief says gardening has been embraced by his community
The people of Saulteaux First Nation are embarking on a journey of food sovereignty, one that's seen the community turn plain yards into riots of colourful vegetables and flowers.
"Ever since I was seven years old, I wanted to have a garden," said Judy Caplette, one of the passionate gardeners that's bloomed on the reserve located about 175 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
Gardening was something that she had enjoyed doing with her own grandmother as a child, and now, Caplette's teaching her own grandchildren how to grow their own food from the land.
"When the Saulteaux band bought the rototiller, I wanted to be one of the first one to have a garden and there was my chance."
Chief Kenny Moccasin said the decision to purchase that tiller came about four years ago, as he wanted to have his people to grow their own food.
Interest grew, as gardens do.
More and more people phoned wanting to start their own gardens, and the band started an annual contest to celebrate the best gardens and prize-winning vegetables, he said.
Moccasin has been pleased with the success, which has had other communities phoning to find out how they too can encourage a healthy initiative like gardening.
"The other day, I was driving down the road, and I'd seen a 10 year old watering their garden," said Moccasin, marvelling, "It's everybody in the community getting involved."
Caplette has become a prize-winning gardener, growing a little bit of everything, whether it's fruit, zucchini, beets and peppers. From growing the ingredients she's learned how to can goods and is now selling them as well.
She pointed out the other benefit has been to her health, with improvements in her blood sugar and blood pressure.
When she walks barefoot through the garden, she simply feels better.
"It's peaceful. It's healing."
With files from CBC Saskatchewan's Blue Sky