The Current

Back to the Land: Stories of people who are (re)connecting with nature

Back to the Land is a four-part series about people who are (re)connecting with nature and the outdoors hosted by Duncan McCue.
(Clockwise from top left: Duncan McCue/CBC, Submitted by Jacqueline L. Scott, Andrew Nguyen/CBC, Submitted by Mario Rigby)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our connection with nature.

For many over the past 18 months, a trip to the park was the only way to connect with friends and loved down while governments implemented restrictions.

In Back to the Land, a four-part series hosted by Duncan McCue, we explore our connections to nature — from prescribing nature for improving mental health to overcoming fear of the great outdoors.

How prescribing nature could make us healthier

Jon Cadang has struggled with his mental health since childhood, but he says spending time in nature proved to be a powerful treatment against his depression.

He's not alone, says Vancouver-based physician Dr. Melissa Lem, the director of PaRx, an evidence-based nature prescription program. She says there's a body of research that indicates spending time in the natural world can benefit our mental and physical well-being.

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Jon Cadang, a forager and artist, holds a bushel dame's rocket, an herbaceous weed, as wild garlic cooks on a portable gas burner. (Duncan McCue/CBC)

Preserving Indigenous languages could be good for the planet, researchers say

It's expected that 50 to 90 per cent of the world's 7,000 languages will be lost by the end of the century, with research suggesting a loss of languages is linked to a loss of biodiversity.

Plant medicine educator Joe Pitawanakwat has made teaching about medicine plants — and preserving their Anishinaabemowin names — his life work.

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Meet the Indigenous educator keeping Anishinaabe medicine plant names alive

1 year ago
Duration 8:14
Plant medicine educator Joe Pitawanakwat has made teaching about medicine plants — and preserving their Anishinaabemowin names — his life work. He takes Back to the Land host Duncan McCue on a walk through the woods to share how certain plants are used in Indigenous cultures.

How a first-generation farmer hopes to make rural agriculture more diverse

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Aminah Haghighi faced what she calls her quarter-life crisis and began gardening at her Toronto home. Today, she runs a farm in Prince Edward County, Ont., that sells everything from tomatoes to seedlings at the local farmer's market.

But in her journey to launch Raining Gold Farms, Haghighi says she's faced racism from those living in the rural community.

Jacqueline Scott, a University of Toronto Ph.D candidate who studies race and the outdoors, says nature is often coded as a "white space" — and farmers are often considered to be white men.

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Jacqueline L. Scott is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Toronto who studies the intersection of race and nature. (Submitted by Jacqueline L. Scott)

These nature enthusiasts once feared the outdoors. Here's how they overcame it

Whether it's wild animals, unpredictable weather or treacherous landscapes, the great outdoors can be scary for many.

Both Mario Rigby and Eva Holland know that first hand. Neither grew up knowing much about nature. But by pushing themselves, they conquered their fears — and now they encourage others to do the same. 

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Eco-explorer Mario Rigby says he didn't spend much time in the outdoors growing up. But in 2015, he set foot on a unique challenge: to walk through eight countries in Africa. (Submitted by Mario Rigby)