Eight local musicians contributed their time and creative energy to the local food cause on May 6 in Amherst, at the 3rd annual Musicians for Local Food fundraiser. From folk to country, to classical accordion and good old rock ‘n roll, our local music is much like our local food movement – diverse and something to celebrate. Another thing that farmers and musicians have in common is that they are in it for the love of it, as the unfortunate reality is that our artists and local food growers alike are drastically, woefully and notoriously underpaid!
Above: (Left to right) Barry Patriquin, Roy Pettigrew, Drew Moore
Above: Colleen and Dave, a.k.a. Construction and Destruction
This fun-filled event also featured a silent auction, raffles, and a local food lunch. Much of the food served at the luncheon was donated by local volunteers, primarily from the Cumberland Food Action Network (CFAN) (www.cumberlandfoodactionnetwork.ca) , including several local farms, such as Wysmykal Farm (www.wysmykalfarm.ca) , Good Thyme Farm (www.goodthymefarm.ca) and Stellaria Herb Farm (https://www.facebook.com/lesjardinsstellaria). Mandy da Costa of Dandy Little Farm, a new farm on the horizon in Cumberland, baked the fabulous chocolate cupcakes featured in the pic at the top of this blog. The lunch menu included locally sourced eggs (quiche), squash soup, and most of the baked goods were made utilizing Speerville Mills products (www.speervillemills.ca). Fair trade coffee and tea were donated by Manasseh Local Food Store (www.manasseh.ca).
All of the funds raised at this event are used to support the Cost-Share CSA Local Food Box Program. Now entering its 4th year, the Cost-Share CSA is a partially subsidized food box program that links local farms with low-income households. The Local Food Box Program represents an innovative and dignified way of getting healthy, nutrient-dense food to our most vulnerable communities. Because low-income subscribers contribute half of the cost of the food box, it is not a simple handout, but a means of empowerment, that contributes to the transformation of the traditional charitable food system.
Helping out those in need extends to our local farm community as well. Many farmers are struggling to make ends meet and according to NS Federation of Agriculture statistics, the number of active farms in Cumberland (and provincially) has been on a steady decline. Better linking communities to their local food suppliers will help ensure that these growers will remain in business. The program helps farmers to diversify their income base and to get their product to consumers that they might otherwise not have access to.
The food boxes are augmented by seasonal recipes and food skills training. This year, through a new program called Farm to Food Bank, initiated by the Cumberland Food Action Network, in partnership with Maggie’s Place Family Resource Centre (http://www.cumberland.maggiesplace.ca/), we will be reaching out to food bank users to not only make an effort to rustle up more Cost-Share CSA subscribers, but also to enroll folks in basic cooking skills workshops that will focus on utilizing the fresh veggies found in the food boxes.
Similar local food box initiatives were launched in SW NB and in Cape Breton last year. While each program has rolled out differently in each region, they all strive at getting fresh, local veggies to our most vulnerable communities. All three programs are linked with local community food banks and work with these organizations to recruit food box subscribers, as well as to provide recipes and food skills programming to accompany the food boxes.
The Cost-Share Local Food Box Program is one of a kind. Whereas most food box programs that exist under the charitable food model contain predominantly non-local and out of season produce, the Cost-Share model is made up of only locally sourced food, making it a unique food box program that challenges the status quo of feeding the cheapest and lowest quality food to food bank users. As well, it sets up an alternative to feeding our community low quality food that has travelled long distances and is laden with chemicals.
Local food projects like the Cost-Share CSA Local Food Box Program help us to reduce our food miles, thereby decreasing our carbon footprint through less fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This is healthier for humans and for our overall environment.
It’s not too late to contribute to this worthy cause! You can donate to the Cost-Share CSA Local Food Box Program online through the Ecology Action Centre website at: https://ecologyaction.ca/costshareCSA
Blog Written By: Su Morin, Ecology Action Centre, Community Food Coordinator – Cumberland.
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre .Learn more about our program at https://www.ecologyaction.ca/ourfood
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