Thunder Bay

Eabametoong farm wins provincial award

Fort Hope Farm produced enough potatoes, peas and corn last year to share with nearly every family in the community, according to its economic development officer.

'It's good to be recognized that you're doing something that's going to help your people,' official says

Fort Hope Farm in Eabametoong First Nation produced enough potatoes, peas and corn last year for nearly every family in the community to share, said Lewis Nate, the economic development officer for the First Nation. (Chris Ensing / CBC)

Eabametoong First Nation is one of the winners of the first ever Rural Ontario Leaders Awards for turning a small community garden into Fort Hope Farm.

The awards honour exceptional projects in rural communities. 

The farm, funded in part by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, opened two years ago, and last year, produced enough potatoes, peas and corn for nearly every family in the community to share, said Lewis Nate, the economic development officer for the First Nation. 

The community also grew onions, tomatoes, and string beans, Nate said, adding "I think we've tried pumpkin too." 

It decided to build the farm to help it become more self-sufficient and to contribute to community pride, Nate said.

Winning the award, he said, is humbling. 

"It's an award for the community, not individual people," he said. "It's good to be recognized that you're doing something that's going to help your people."

Nate also said the farm is just a first step in developing food production in the community.

It's now looking at installing greenhouses, he added. 

"It feels good. It feels we're doing something with our land.  We're growing our own stuff," he said.  

"We're just taking one baby step, and 10, 20 years from now, we'll be celebrating a world prize.  That's how I look at it."
 

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