The Anishinabek Nation wants to hear from producers
By Diego Flammini
A First Nation community wants to connect with local farmers, food producers and consumers to build an online database.
The Anishinabek Nation is looking to compile enough industry information to create an Agricultural Asset Inventory, a directory and an online food map of existing agriculture and food-related businesses.
“The food map will include farms, aquaculture sites, restaurants and agricultural as well as community-based agricultural initiatives such as community gardens,” Lynn Moreau, program coordinator with Anishinabek Nation, told Farms.com. “It will also show food production and consumption sites in an effort to link producers with consumers. These locations include First Nation daycares, schools and seniors’ homes as well as tourism establishments and other businesses that provide food as part of their services.”
The overall goal of the project, which is funded by the provincial government and supported by the Indian Agricultural Program of Ontario, is to increase opportunities for First Nation farmers in their communities.
If people know where to get local food, it can help with economic activity, Moreau said.
“The objective of the online food map is to serve as a marketing tool which could result in business attraction and expansion, identification of potential markets for producers and allow for increased networking opportunities,” she said. “One objective is to identify opportunities for increased purchase of local goods resulting in enhancement of local economies.”
In addition, this kind of project can help show younger community members that opportunities for them exist in the ag sector. This issue is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought the topic of food sustainability to the forefront.
“First Nation agriculture is key in supporting other industries, especially in northern Ontario,” Moreau said. “COVID-19 has enhanced the need for self-sufficiency and food sovereignty for our communities and local involvement is required to get these agricultural projects off the ground.”
Areas of food importance for the Anishinabek Nation include maple syrup, which is important as a dietary item and in the community’s culture and stories. Honey, rice and other foods are significant too, Moreau said.
“We have several producers in the aquaculture sector which is big on Manitoulin Island, and there is a growing interest in that industry. There are opportunities to enhance our Nations’ involvement in traditional farming opportunities as well, such as beef and vegetable farming and the growth of cash crops.”
Anyone looking to get their business or project on the map can contact Lynn at (705) 869-7563 or email her.