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Protecting Indigenous Food Systems

Indigenous food systems are key to the cultural, spiritual, and physical health of Indigenous communities and their/our eco systems. Through conducting my research as a member of Canada's indigenous community I came across practices such as the 13 Moon Harvesting Table and thought it helped sync up farming/ harvesting activities with natural cycles, keeping things sustainable and in tune with the environment. But nowadays, these systems face threats from environmental damage, loss of traditional knowledge, and industrial activities like fish farming. Protecting and revitalizing Indigenous food systems is essential to maintaining both ecological balance and cultural heritage.

(Figure 1 Traditional Harvesting/13 Moons, TBDHU, 2024, https://www.understandingourfoodsystems.com/thr)


In doing my research for Indigenous food systems I came across this traditional 13 month harvesting moon cycle. It displays  a cycle in which our environment can help nourish us, but also how  we can help the environment to nourish itself.


By planting what we know thrives well in our ecosystem we should all adopt practices in which we can reduce our food security as well as our food sovereignty.


The Indigenous Food Systems Network or IFSN was developed by the WGIS or Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, and is one organization that strives for food sovereignty saying “The ability to respond to our own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods. The ability to make decisions over the amount and quality of food we hunt, fish, gather, grow and eat. Freedom from dependence on grocery stores or corporately controlled food production, distribution and consumption in industrialized economies.” (IFSN/WGIS, n.d)


I thought I would use the Thyme in my garden as a good example of how we could all practice food sovereignty. A super easy herb to keep on hand to have fresh almost all year round here in Ontario, nearly maintenance free. Having something as simple as thyme on hand could help increase our food security. This is some thyme I planted this time last year, not only did it survive the harsh winter of Ontario, but it has come back bigger than it ever has before this spring.

(Figure 2, My garden, Justin Kehoe, 2024)


This year I have chosen to see for myself what else I can have as a permanent member of my garden, so I have chosen to plant Sage right next to the Thyme. According to one author Amy Grant “As for the herb garden, sage can be used as a companion planting next to lavender, lemon balm, lemon thyme, lovage, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, thyme and tarragon.” (Amy Grant, 2023). Also to be more sustainable I reused the original potter for the Sage as a new planter for some wildflower seeds.


(Figures 3,4,5,6, My Garden, Justin Kehoe, 2024)





Sources:


Foodsecurecanada, Supporting an equitable and empowered food movement for 20 years, n.d, https://foodsecurecanada.org/about/


Gardening know how, Best Sage Companion Plants In The Garden, August 2023, https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/sage/sage-companion-plants.htm


Indigenous Food Systems Network/ Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, n.d, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, https://www.indigenousfoodsystems.org/


Traditional Harvesting/13 Moons, TBDHU, Understanding our food systems, 2024,



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