March 26, 2023

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There is something powerful happening in Indian country these days; an awakening. We are IdleNoMore. I can sense that what was once taken from us as a people; that which was meant to oppress us; that which was meant to keep us hating ourselves; that cloud of dysfunctional living and thinking, is finally clearing. More of our people are returning to the good way of life. We are regaining our strength as Indigenous people and as nations of Turtle Island. I am extremely proud to be an Indigenous person especially at this time in history.

One of the key areas of regaining our strength is in regards to our health. We all need to be healthy to live life to the fullest. With GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) now in our food system and fast food so readily available, our food seems to be lacking in healthy choices.

One simple action like growing a food garden can be an act of rebellion against a food industry that generally doesn’t care about the impact their food “products” have on our health. Growing your own food takes the profits out of their pockets. It gives us control over the food we eat. It enables us the freedom and knowledge to become self-sufficient in a world that seems to be ever-increasingly making us reliant on a system whose only real concern is based on profit margins.

Our ancestors had the deep-rooted understanding of plant life; they knew what an important role it played in nutrition and our well-being. They respected plant life as we can tell now by the ceremonies that still exist that celebrate specific plants especially in the Haudenosaunee and other indigenous cultures.

Growing a food garden is a practical and easy way to have access to fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. The benefits involved outweigh any negative ideas you may have about gardening. It’s been proven that gardening improves physical, mental and emotional health. Getting in touch with nature is always a healing experience. It’s also important for the coming generations to learn the skills to be self sufficient. I heard it said “how can we as a people be sovereign nations if we don’t know how to feed ourselves?” How profound is that? We need to have these basic skills. They are important for self-reliance, and make our people healthy and strong once again.

I live in Windsor, Ontario with my three young children. I also manage to live on a low income and I know how difficult it can be to get by and to ensure that my family has enough food to eat. But I also don’t believe that just because I live on a low income that me or my children deserve to have an unhealthy diet. That is one reason why I plant a food garden to help supplement grocery shopping.

I’m still learning with each garden season. It’s been an invaluable experience so far. I found that if you get connected with other gardeners in your community it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You can go to seed swaps and trade seeds. If you don’t have the space near your home, check out your local community garden and ask for a plot of your own. Another choice is to use containers, which are perfect for balconies. There are many options. When you do have your own food garden make sure to choose heirloom (non-GMO) seeds and no pesticides for your garden. This will ensure you are getting healthy produce for yourself and your family.

The good way of life is what was meant for us as a people; to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.

For more information about organic food gardening join the Facebook group called the Turtle Island Garden Club.




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About The Author

Joanne Mitchell

Joanne C. Mitchell was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She is of Oneida and English descent. She lives in Windsor, Ontario with her three children. Joanne is co-founder of the Turtle Island Garden Club, which is a garden club that promotes food gardening within the First Nations community in the local area. She is actively involved with volunteering within the community.

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