Go to main menu Go to main content Go to footer

Community ᐄᐦᑖᐧᐃᓐ

Community gardens thrive in Eeyou Istchee amid climate challenges

BY Myriam Boivin-Neashit Jul 3, 2024

Community gardens and greenhouse projects are taking root in Eeyou Istchee, fortifying local food security and revitalizing traditional harvesting practices despite the challenges posed by climate change. The boreal climate profoundly shapes daily life and traditional activities, presenting significant challenges for agriculture and garden sustainability.

These initiatives provide fresh produce and cultural connections in Eeyou Istchee. Greenhouses in Chisasibi, Wemindji and Whapmagoostui are extending the growing season, yielding vegetables that include zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and broccoli. 

“During challenging times, such as when grocery prices soar, these activities are invaluable,” emphasized one community member on Facebook.

There are workshops and other initiatives like gardening with students, which educate and engage community members of all ages in sustainable gardening practices. People are sharing photos of their gardens and tips on social media, spreading awareness and inspiring others to participate in these practices.

A community member excitedly posted during the grand opening of the Wemindji greenhouse last October: “Look how full of life it is! They are growing zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, pumpkin, snow peas, jalapeños, lettuce, peppers, flowers… and more!”

Traditional harvesting practices like berry picking and mushroom foraging also play a role. These activities not only supplement diets but strengthen the bond between people and nature. The rich biodiversity of Eeyou Istchee, including boreal forests and wetlands, supports these practices.

However, the boreal climate faces numerous challenges. Increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and ecological disruptions such as wildfires threaten local food systems and has had severe consequences for wildlife in the region. 

Furthermore, the warming climate is altering the distribution of various animal and plant species. For example, eelgrass, crucial for migrating geese, has been declining along the coast, impacting hunting opportunities. This decline has also led to seals venturing ashore less frequently. 

Many community members have highlighted that unpredictable weather is already disturbing hunting activities. These shifts disrupt ecosystems and pose significant challenges for wildlife conservation efforts.

In response, adaptation strategies are being developed to safeguard local food security. These include identifying climate change impacts on key food species, enhancing resilience through diverse agricultural practices, and integrating traditional ecological knowledge into modern adaptation strategies. Researchers point out that understanding these impacts and developing informed predictions are critical to the sustainability of northern communities.

LATEST ᒫᐦᒡ ᑎᐹᒋᒧᐧᐃᓐ