Backyard Shiitake Mushroom Farming

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Mushrooms! They are such fantastical life forms, evoking thoughts of fairies and fairy rings with deeply entrenched folklore. Or smurfs. I will do you all a favour and avoid punny reference to “fun guys” but once you try your hand … Continue reading

Think you know food banks? Think again, says The Peter McKee Community Food Centre

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  by Steve Dawson. “Wow!” is the first word out of my mouth, upon visiting the new Peter McKee Community Food Centre in Moncton this week.  The freshly painted, bright and spacious building feels more like a modern coffee shop or neighbourhood market … Continue reading

Growing Farmers Markets in Cumberland County

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For the third year in a row now, the Ecology Action Centre’s Our Food Project has partnered with the Cumberland Food Action Network (CFAN), to produce a handy reference for locating local farmers markets in Cumberland County, NS. The Farmers … Continue reading

From pickles to sales: Canning fundraiser series with Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre

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Last fall we supported a food preservation series with Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre in Halifax. Participants got a taste of how to can, ferment, and freeze seasonal produce.  At the end of this series we asked participants what they … Continue reading

Grow food people and organizations, Change the conversation, Lead the food movement!

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We wanted to share with you our vision and some cool stats from our Annual Program Survey, completed by 184 respondents across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick from  workshop participants to key partners. Enjoy! Miranda Cobb is the Research and Evaluation … Continue reading

A Living Library in Margaree

 

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Imagine the Possibilities? – Kimberly’s Dream

The Coady & Tompkins Memorial Library sneaks up on you as your eyes are pulled in all directions by the stunning vistas of the Margarees: rolling mountains, pastoral valleys, rushing rivers, and winding roads. There is a reason why those who can make a go of it here on Cape Breton Island are fiercely proud to call this place home. As families new and old to this landscape can attest, it takes more than a nice view to make a place home. With such a rural population, access to community resources is an ongoing challenge; a challenge that the library in Margaree Forks has met with open arms.

When you walk in the door, it is immediately apparent that this is more than a place to source books. Besides the comfy couch, the inviting play area, and the curiosity piquing displays of books, there is an over arching theme. Food.

Kim Tilsley is the Library Assistant in Charge. She is also a farmer, and her passion for food permeates her work at the library. The wall behind the front desk is adorned with a stunning, tear-jerking story quilt made by Kim’s mother, Bea Tilsley-Cummingham. It is titled Imagine the Possibilities – Kimberly’s Dream. The quilt’s blocks depict a vision of a library oasis, complete with a rainbow of vegetables, garden creatures, a cob oven, and of course, books.

Margaree Cooks! project

Margaree Cooks! project

Near the entrance, there is a large display board, depicting the progress of their Margaree Cooks! Project. The plan is to build a community run cob oven on the library land (owned and managed by the Margaree Area Development Association). Kim and Library Assistant, Susie Paddon, have been attending workshops on a rebuild project of the Park Avenue Community Oven in Dartmouth. “There is nothing like hands-on learning to really understand something. And we certainly got our hands dirty during the oven workshops!” said Kim. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer. Donations to support the oven project are being gratefully accepted at the library.

Chick Hatching at the library

Chick Hatching at the library

As you make your way back through the library, there is a newly hatched batch of chicks in a brooder box, along with information displays on chick development, and chick care. The children that visit the library cannot tear themselves away! At the back of the library there is an area set up with grow lights, where a table full of seedlings have been started for the library garden outside.

The Living Library

The Living Library

The library’s community garden is called Paul’s Garden, in honour of local gardener Paul Chiasson. His memorial fund allowed for the start-up of the garden. This was the pilot garden for the Living Library Project, an initiative of the Eastern County Regional Library. There are now six ECRL branch libraries with gardens on site, including Petit de Grat, Mulgrave, Canso, Guysborough, Sherbrooke, and of course, Margaree Forks. Others without the land base are doing some container gardening. Activities in the garden were linked to their children’s summer learning programming through their “How Does Your Garden Grow?” curriculum.

Tunnel of Pole Beans in Paul's Garden

Tunnel of Pole Beans in Paul’s Garden

 

Last year, the gardening season wrapped up with a harvest potluck. Offerings cooked up from the library garden included a cornbread made from Painted Mountain Milling Corn (seed purchased through Hope Seed). They dried and milled it themselves, before baking up the recipe below.

Besides vegetables, Kim is working on gradually incorporating fruit bushes into the garden plots, as well as the landscaped beds at the entrance. As we say our good-byes, Kim points out some little cherry bushes tucked in amidst the tulips. They are just starting to bud. This is indeed a living library, and it is a true gift to the Margaree community.

Cherries amidst the tulips

Cherries amidst the tulips

Cornbread
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
3 T. oil
¼ c. honey
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg

  • Preheat oven to 425⁰F.
  • In a large bowl combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large measuring cup combine oil, honey, buttermilk and egg.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry, stir until just combined. Pour batter into a greased 8” square pan.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

Cob Oven and veggies in "Kimberly's Dream

Cob Oven and veggies in “Kimberly’s Dream

Jody Nelson is the Community Food Coordinator for Cape Breton with the Our Food Project of the Ecology Action Centre.

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
Or follow us on Twitter: @OurFoodProject
Facebook: The Ecology Action Centre

The Mobile Food Market is rolling in to a community near you!

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I often wonder what people might say if you ask them the question: What’s your vision for food in your community? Does it include things like community gardens and orchards, fresh food markets and healthy corner stores, community kitchens, and … Continue reading

The Kids are Alright! Youth Engagement in Cumberland County

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The EAC Our Food Project – Cumberland, has been working with local youth over the past two years on a variety of gardening and food skills training projects. In partnership with Schools Plus NS (https://schoolsplus.ednet.ns.ca/), students from the Amherst Regional … Continue reading