Recently the Greater Blackville Resource Centre (GBRC) hosted the first ever Community Food Mentors (CFM) program for the area. Twelve individuals attended one session per week for five weeks in a shared learning environment where participants not only received education from various instructors but shared their personal knowledge with each other as well.
“When we first heard about the Community Food Mentors course we immediately knew it was something we wanted to help bring to our community,” says Stacy Underhill, Secretary/Treasurer of the Greater Blackville Resource Centre and coordinator of the CFM program in Blackville.
“I want to thank you for all your work in making the Food Mentors course such a success,” says Penny Curtis, a participant. “I am sure that everyone enjoyed their days and learned a great deal. Please thank all those who assisted. They each put many hours into preparation and delivery of excellent presentations.”
The project was supported by the Community Inclusion Network.
“The Community Food Mentor training is built on the interest and skills of communities and it was clear in Blackville that it was the motivation and passion of the coordinator, facilitators, guests, and participants that made it so successful, fun, and inspiring,” says Rébeka Frazer-Chiasson, Coordinator for the Community Inclusion Network Region 7. “It made so much sense for the Northumberland Community Inclusion Network to work on this project with the Greater Blackville Resource Centre since it complements both organizations’ visions of a community that uses people’s energy and abilities to increase access to good, healthy, and affordable food.”
“Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Food Mentors Program,” says participant, Mae Curtis. “I enjoyed every minute of it – the presenters, that you chose, were excellent and very interesting. I learned something new every day that I attended.”
Food is a necessary part of everyone’s life and issues involving food and food security are becoming increasingly complex. Today society is faced with many food choices, conflicting information about diet and health, limited time for meal preparation and questions about how and where food is grown. Some face additional challenges such as living on low incomes, limited transportation, limited kitchen facilities or limited food knowledge and preparation skills.
CFMs are a province-wide network of certified individuals who share their skills in food and nutrition within their own communities. The goal of the CFM program is to develop a network of dedicated food mentors in New Brunswick communities through a shared learning experience that will increase the exchange of information on food skills, healthy eating practices and local food sourcing in the province.
“Bringing people together in a learning environment, sharing ideas with each other, and generating positive community spirit is exactly what GBRC is all about,” Underhill says. “In addition to operating the food bank and clothing thrift store we have a long-term vision for GBRC to be a true resource centre for everyone in the community, and not just those that need to access the food bank. Projects such as starting a community garden where participants share their gardening expertise and have access to fresh vegetables, which may not have been possible for them before, is just one example.”
Frazer-Chiasson adds, “The Community Food Mentor training aims to share tools, tips, and ideas that will increase community capacity and enable participants to take action within their community whether by sharing information with their neighbour or participating in a community project. We look forward to working with the new Community Food Mentors and other community members in the region on food security and other community projects.”
A few of the recent CFM graduates are interested in starting a community garden and are wondering if others in the Blackville area want to get involved.
A community garden is where people get together to share a plot of land, share the use of tools, fertilizer, a tiller, and also share the workload of weeding, watering and caring for the garden. Afterwards the harvest is shared among the participants, used to make preserves, donated to others, or whatever the group chooses to do. The garden will be located in Blackville and the size will depend on the amount of interest received.
There is also an opportunity for individuals to rent their own garden plot that they plant, maintain, and harvest themselves and keep the food for their own families. There would be a small fee to rent a plot of land ($10 – $20). This is good for people who are comfortable gardening on their own but don’t have the space or tools at home. If you are interested in joining the planning committee, renting a garden plot for yourself, working on a larger plot and sharing the harvest with others, or just want to learn more about it, contact Ken MacIntosh at firstname.lastname@example.org or (506) 843-7872.
For more information about the CFM program visit their website. http://nbfoodsecurity.ca/community-food-mentor-program/