Roots to Harvest Rocks Gardens and Cafs
Roots to Harvest is about food, about young people, about community, and about doing things in good ways.
The first time a person learns where food comes from; the life changing experience of serving those in need; the heat of a greenhouse; the dirt under your fingernails; the feel of a handful of red wiggler compost worms; the first seedlings… This is Roots to Harvest.
It’s pretty hard to come up with words as eloquent as those ones to open a story about Thunder Bay’s (according to The Walleye, anyway, and they’re pretty good at this sort of stuff) Favourite Grassroots Organization, so they’ve been stolen directly from Roots to Harvest’s website.
This past Sunday Roots to Harvest held a work party to put their garden at the corner of Cornwall and Algoma to bed for another year. They’re a cheerful and organized bunch, and despite the seasonal chill in the air the sun was bright and the work went quickly and well. Some planted cloves of garlic, ready to come up when the snow melts; others collected coriander and cosmos seeds to be planted carefully in the springtime.
Their garden beds are breathtaking at this time of year. Not the gardens, the beds themselves. None of that green stuff to hide the fact that the Roots to Harvest team has done a really, really good job of building soil out of love, promises and community. That dark, rich and crumbly soil they’ve cultivated for themselves in that once vacant space is a metaphor for the organization they’ve created out of the amazing mix of community involvement that makes them a Walleye favourite.
This summer, in addition to their “Corngoma” garden, Roots to Harvest managed gardens at several high schools, getting ready to dove-tail with their winter projects… helping our schools eat local.
As well-known as they are for their summer garden activities, their winter activities are going to make them heroes – on the local food scene, at least. Pioneering their way through the hurdles of Farm to Caf programming for Thunder Bay, they’re helping to develop a sustainable demand at the institutional level that will support growth in our farm sector. Among their partners are farmers you’ll see at the Market throughout the year and most of Thunder Bay’s high schools.
Institutional procurement is being pursued by a number of different groups now. The Lakehead University Student Union wants to see a certain amount of local procurement in the university’s food procurement. The City of Thunder Bay is working on institutional procurement as part of its overall Food Strategy. What that could mean is the development of more infrastructure to support the increased demand. More cold storage, for example, and larger crops grown with intention of storing them for optimal freshness for weeks or months after harvest. What that eventually could mean for Market patrons is more local produce available, more months of the year – good news for everyone, really.
Want to learn more about Roots to Harvest’s Farm to Caf initiative? Check out their Facebook page and give them your Like. Read through the September posts and see what they’ve been saying about the first Farm to Caf days they’ve already been running this school year!