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Funding to help improve Indigenous-led education and demonstration farm

Improvements to an Indigenous-led education and demonstration farm will aim to make it more welcoming and engaging public space for all.

According to the Island Coastal Economic Trust, they will contribute $50,000 to the Nawalakw Community Education and Demonstration Farm. That funding includes $25,000 from 4VI and the program provides $50,000 for as much as 100 per cent of project costs.

The funds will be used for improvements to the 2.5-acre farm and will include creating a public washroom with running hot water, installing gathering space infrastructure and a washing station for farm produce, improving the trails, implementing site and garden/veggie bed orientation, adding barrel composters and including educational signage in Kwak’wala.

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The farm was started in 2019 by the Nawalakw, ‘Namgis First Nation and the Village of Alert Bay as a response to a loss of food security during the pandemic.

They say it aims to increase the community’s ability to grow, process, and distribute fruits and vegetables based on Indigenous knowledge and practices.

“This project goes straight to the heart of our mission by enhancing support towards a healthy and sustainable approach to food,” said Nawalakw Healing Society executive director K’odi Nelson.

“Our remote Indigenous communities have been especially burdened with a health care crisis, the ever-rising cost of food, and difficulty in accessing fresh, grown produce. These issues are acutely addressed with our Community Education and Demonstration Farm.”

The farm was initially made possible through the donation of two lots by the ‘Namgis First Nation and earthwork to clear the land and topsoil. It now has two greenhouses at the farm along with nearly 200 different fruit trees or bushes to ensure a legacy of fresh fruits and berries, according to ICET.

ICET CEO Brodie Guy adds that they are grateful to be partnering on the project, especially with its positive community impact.

“This farm is an inspiration bringing the community together with elders, youth and ‘Yalis community members committing to building local food security while fostering each other’s wellbeing,” said Guy.

The project is set to get underway soon.

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