I recently attended a Planning Your Garden workshop organized by Food Matters Manitoba.
About 25 people crowded into the Food Matters Manitoba office at 640 Broadway to listen to a presentation by Mark Klassen of Urban Eatin’ Gardeners Worker Co-op.
During this free, 30-minute workshop, I gathered a lot of interesting and practical gardening tips. Our speaker shared ideas about seed starting basics, companion planting, square-foot gardening, and vertical gardening.
For example, I learned that planting a ring of radish seeds around a seeding tomato plant will maximize space in a garden. I also learned that planting a ring of carrot seeds around a seedling tomato plant will help draw nutrients to the tomato, although the carrots will be sacrificed during the process.
I left the workshop armed with a bag of soil, a few pages of notes, several seed packets, a few small plastic pots, and a burning desire to begin planning my own summer garden.
Over the next few days, I decided to discover more about Food Matters Manitoba. I spoke to Sagan Morrow who is the development and Dig In Manitoba co-ordinator for the organization.
I learned that Food Matters Manitoba is a registered charity that has been running since 2005. Its mission is to "engage Manitobans towards healthy, sustainable and fair food for all".
The organization works at the ground level, and currently runs several projects across the province including a poultry project in Cross Lake, urban gardening workshops, and the Dig In Manitoba Challenge.
The Dig In Manitoba Challenge is one of the projects accessible to all. The program runs from February to June and requires participants to register online at www.diginmanitoba.ca/challenge.
It brings together several stakeholders: parents, gardeners, farmers, and health educators who share information about growing and eating healthy, sustainable food.
Learning about where our food comes from and how it is grown is an important part of the project. Workshops about composting, menu planning and gardening are also offered.
There’s also information about locating farmers’ markets, growing a garden, cooking from scratch, and storing the harvest. A search on their website provides recipes made with local ingredients that can be shared with family. The Dig In Manitoba Challenge encourages participants to eat locally, to learn new food skills and to take action for fair food.
The Manitoba Food Charter is another integral part of Food Matters Manitoba. The charter envisions "A just and sustainable food system in Manitoba… rooted in healthy communities, where no one is hungry and everyone has access to nutritious food."
Another vision of the charity is to work with youth and schools to ensure a future sustainable food system.
If you share the vision of Food Matters Manitoba", and wish to participate in the Dig In Manitoba Challenge, please visit their website.
I’m certainly glad that I did.
Joanne O’Leary is a community correspondent for Riverbend.