African Food from Canadian Soil

africamani

On June 12th 800 volunteers from businesses in Southeast New Brunswick gathered up for the Greater Moncton and Southeast NB United Way Day of Caring. Community gardens, schools and other community initiatives get a huge leg up from teams of volunteers that come fully equipped to renovate, paint, landscape, build gardens and much more!

One of the projects the City of Moncton Day of Caring team was assigned to was the Africamani Garden. It was great because the team was made up of the City’s landscaping crew, we got a lot of work done. Fencing was added to encompass the extra 1500 square feet of garden and 7 new raised beds were built!

africamani4

The Africamani garden in its 6th season producing African and Local vegetables. The idea of this project came from a group of African Canadians from Glad Tidings Church who missed the vegetables they had grown up eating and could find them in the grocery store. They planted seeds that they had saved from their home land along with local seeds and created the Africamani Garden!

The vision of this garden is to grow produce that is common in many African countries and make it available to help new Canadians find foods that they are familiar with. It is also an opportunity to be involved in the community and ensure that their culture can be shared and passed onto the next generation. The produce is also sold to raise funds to support initiatives in their home countries particularly in the Congo.

amaranthamaranth_dish

Plants such as Amaranth (Lenga-Lenga) and various bean varieties can grow in Canada but are not available in the form that a Congolese person for example would use them for cooking. Examples of this are that the leaves of the Amaranth plant and fresh beans from the pod are what is needed to make their dishes. Here is a link to cooking Lenga-Lenga!

Quote from Rev. Théo Mpunge: “I prepare amaranth leaves the Congolese way but I just learned how to make it the Nigerian way! So when my friends go see their families in Nigeria they will say let me show you how to make amaranth the Congolese way!”

The group will be running community kitchens this summer and fall to share African and Canadian cooking from the garden’s produce!

It is great to see what kind of diversity is hidden in our communities! There is so much fun to be had in discovering the food and culture of faraway places and learning the skills to enjoy them in your own garden and kitchen!

Aaron Shantz

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