Companion planting was one of the many practical growing strategies the program taught, but for Luke this method has other meaning.
“Being Ojibwe, working out here under the escarpment and using these methods is really meaningful. It connects me to the land I’m on, my culture and my community. Being able to work within food production with the ultimate goal of improving food security for my community, has been incredibly rewarding to me.” Maximizing the yields in both Garden Hubs means more food produced, and more food going out to community members in need. “This job with United Way ticks a lot of boxes for me. I get to spend my days in nature, creating beautiful spaces that function as sustainable food production hubs as well as places for people to visit, connect and learn. At the end of the day, I know that everything we grow here will benefit people in my community too. It’s a win-win.”
“Being Ojibwe, working out here under the escarpment and using these methods is really meaningful. It connects me to the land I’m on, my culture and my community. Being able to work within food production with the ultimate goal of improving food security for my community, has been incredibly rewarding to me.”
Luke gives a lot of credit to his time at Niagara College, where he learned from industry experts like Paul Zammit, a self-proclaimed life-long learner and horticulture industry expert. “I was lucky enough to be invited back to speak to his classes about the initiative and hosted them out for a practical class out at the garden, it was an honour for me” said Luke. “I really love educating people and it was an opportunity for me to learn too. The fact that I am able to take what I’ve learned at Niagara College and from professors like Paul and Mary-Jane, and apply it directly to improving the community I live in, is exactly where I wanted to be when deciding to shift careers and I am happy to share that passion with other students.”
Healthy food is the fuel that helps us live, work and play – like the produce grown in the Garden Hubs. No person should have to choose between fresh food or other basic needs, but as food insecurity becomes more prevalent, accessing local food programs is inevitable for some. This is where local partnerships like the Niagara College Garden Hub are crucial for helping local agencies have fresh food on hand when they need it. Including healthy, culturally appropriate food in our diets plays a significant role in overall health and well-being. “It’s wonderful that Niagara College recognized the opportunity to utilize the greenspace available at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus in a way that benefits student curriculum and our community simultaneously” said Luke. Through this partnership with Niagara College Canada, a stronger community can be fostered through greater access to food, social connection, food literacy and student enrichment.