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Local Foods Initiative calls for support for Kitikaanikamik project

Lisa Dumontier

The Municipality of Red Lake is about to get healthier says the Red Lake Local Foods Initiative (RLLFI) which is calling on locals to cast their votes in the Aviva Community Fund competition in support of a new community project. Initiated earlier this year, the RLLFI’s Kitikaanikamik “Where People Come to Grow” is poised to benefit the entire district by erecting a year-round greenhouse in Red Lake to provide healthy food to those who struggle to afford it; to improve community food security by promoting local food; and to share knowledge around the cultivation and preparation of healthy food.

A partnership between the Red Lake Area Emergency Shelter, the Northwestern Health Unit, the Red Lake Green Committee and The Change Room (formerly Junk ‘n Java), the RLLFI brings together a group of organizations already working to improve the health of local residents and the environment alike. Furthering its goal to “increase the availability of fresh, healthy food while decreasing our community’s reliance on fossil fuel for our food”, the network of community stakeholders have secured support for a community greenhouse from the United Way and are looking forward to its arrival in the community.

Created in China and tested in Manitoba where growing was sustained throughout a cold northern winter, the community greenhouse slated for the Red Lake area is a unique structure that, unlike similar solar-heated greenhouses, has been designed to absorb the heat that the sun is already radiating down. Featuring a north wall that is half filled with sand and half filled with fibreglass insulation to provide for a heat sink during the day and a subsequent release of that heat at night, the greenhouse will also make use of insulated blankets to be rolled down at night to cover the thin plastic and protect plants from freezing during colder winter nights.

Promising a slew of benefits for the Red Lake community at large, the RLLFI’s Kitikaanikamik project will not only provide healthy options for those struggling to put food on their tables, but will also be an important teaching guide for community members—especially the youth demographic—interested in becoming more involved with growing their own food. Any profit earned by the greenhouse would, according to the RLLFI, be utilised to cover greenhouse operation costs including water and electricity or be transferred for use by the Red Lake Area Emergency Shelter.

With the greenhouse already on its way to Red Lake, the RLLFI has turned to the Aviva Community Fund competition in the hopes of securing some additional financing that would help cover the costs of operating the substantial greenhouse. As relayed by Red Lake Green Committee member Christine Penner Polle, the RLLFI “is now looking for ‘seed money’ in order to be ready when the greenhouse arrives and land is secured.”

“Besides seeds, to make Kitikaanikamik a reality, we will need to purchase soil, build a shelter and compost area, and ensure a power and water supply,” she continued.

Launched on September 26, 2011, the Aviva contest is just beginning but already has almost 1,000 projects covering every corner of Canada as well as some communities in the United States listed for voter consideration. Breaking the projects up into seven categories—neighbourhood, youth, education, health, well-bring, environment and culture—the contest will feature three rounds of voting to determine the ninety top projects to move on to the final judging round. To be awarded on January 25, 2012, Aviva will continue to select winners until the full $1,000,000 slated for use via the competition is allocated by the community-minded company.

While the first round of voting officially closes today, all projects that didn’t secure top spots during the competition’s initial leg are still in the running for prizes and voters are encouraged to keep showing their support by casting their vote daily.

Sharing information on its Kitikaanikamik project at the Red Lake Culture Days held from September 30-October 01, 2011, the RLLFI has put together a slideshow featuring photographs taken of area residents showing their support for the greenhouse and local foods movement and is now calling on supporters to lend their voice to the project by casting their votes in support of the Red Lake Local Foods Initiative. A project, which according to the RLLFI, will have a great impact on the Red Lake area at large.

“While this project is in the ‘health’ category of this contest, it will have a positive impact in every category listed—on our youth, the environment and our neighbourhood. It will be used for educating youth and the greater community and has the potential to improve the well-being of our entire community and become a real gathering place, promoting a culture of caring for each other and the land that gives us life,” finished Polle. “We invite you to partner with us, to make Kitikaanikamik ‘Where People Come to Grow’ a reality.”

To show your support for the project visit www.avivacommunityfund.org.

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