In 2017 the Trust funded an earthship type greenhouse in the Coomunity of Sik-e-dakh Band. It expands their growing season considerably and is also used to integrate with other existing programs and community gardens, for example starting seedlings for those gardens. The ultimate goal is food security, building community gardens and rgeenhouses that interconnect and work together. Next step is building a community garden in Gitwangak. The USDC been working with the Simgiget Gitwangak Society (Gitwangak Hereditary Chiefs) on a food security plan, which will eventually be written into their Strategic Engagement Agreement with the Province. They have witnessed a near-complete loss of food sovereignty in a mere generation-and-a-half, but the elders and matriarchs remember growing up with vibrant food gardens in practically every back yard. Food is central to Gitxsan culture and food security is defined by the Simgiget Gitwangak Society as having substantial local, organic, wild or cultivated food - gathered, produced, processed and delivered - to provide at least 75% of Gitwangak Members' diets. To achieve this ambitious goal, the Hereditary Chiefs are planning a 1 acre Gitwangak Community and Demonstration Garden for 2018 that will provide, first and foremost, for the Elementary School's Lunch Program and the Community Good Food Box. It will pair youth with elders to create a space for practical and cultural knowledge preservation, as well as employ graduates of the Wilp Si’Satxw Community Healing Centre program as a way to learn new skills and transition back towards everyday life. Future plans for the garden in following years alson involve expanding the garden to accommodate market crops, introducing chickens for meat and eggs, and building a Community Root Cellar and Community Smokehouse.
A Kitwanga local named Limwel Ramada, a professional organic blueberry farmer, has been working with the community for several years to build a program that teaches life skills through gardening while providing clean local food. He has put together an estimate to prepare a garden this year and is willing to volunteer his time as head gardener and mentor. SWCC sees the environmental, cultural, social and economic values of a community garden and has pledged materials and support in practical and administrative capacities.
The Trust will provide funding in the amount of $18,000.00 to build and maintain the Community Garden. Much of this cost will be in establishing long-lasting infrastructure - building a greenhouse, garden beds, fences, planting fruit trees. The aim is to create a project that can eventually sustain itself economically through community sales and internal funding.
The purpose of Cycle 16 Trail Society is to plan, develop, construct, maintain and manage trails in the Bulkley Valley area of British Columbia for non-motorized use by the public in order to promote health and fitness; promote safe modes of transportation that are less harmful to the environment; link the various communities in the Bulkley Valley for people who are unable to use the highways or do not wish to use them for lack of a suitable vehicle or for safety, environmental, or other concerns; and, promote non-motorized tourism within the Bulkley Valley, all for the benefit of the various people and communities of the Bulkley Valley. Their current project specifically aims towards the construction of a paved ulti-use Trail between Smithers and Telkwa.
Preliminary work for such projects can be tedious, costly, takes up a lot of time and is not ‘glamourous’. Without it though, projects often fall through before they reach momentum. As Trustee I acknowledge their hard work and dedication, the membership base is solid for such a small town, and the benefits of this trail would be too great, to be ignored. This project’s impact would be multi-facetted in areas of sustainability and effects on the community and fits within the Mandate of the Trust. With Pleasure am I providing funding for this project in the amount of $ 22,000.--.
April 12/13, 2018:
"Passive House Canada Event" in Smithers:
I am pleased to dedicate $ 4,000.-- to co-funding an Event in Smithers, hosted by PASSIVE HOUSE CANADA. This amount, together with other grants and funding, will be used to host a 1 day course open to any member of the public in the Community, including professionals and government officials.
Passive House Design is an important Strategy in creating sustainable buildings while maintaining a healthy and comfortable living environment (or work environment for commercial use). Passive House Design is not complicated, but needs to be very specifically following Passive House Design parameters. This might be strange or daunting to many potential home owners, Contractors, Business Owners. It might seem unnecessarily regulated to the average person. The first step in making Passive House Design more popular is education, making the public aware, impart knowledge and quell misinformation on the subject. It is especially interesting to approach passive house Design in extreme Climates, and I am interested to see what the Course has to teach us Smithereens, inhabitants of a more severe Northern Climate.
I have also put the Project Coordinator in contact with Bryan and Theresa DeGroot, local owners of a non-certified “Passive House”, and they have graciously offered to host an Open House for participants of the course.
UPDATE HOLISTIC YOUTH PROGRAM: I just received a link to this beautiful video about the 2017 Program funded by the Trust. It shows how much of a positive impact and ripple effect such programs have on individuals, families, communities. CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO
I have followed the programs for years and I am impressed with the Grendel Group’s ongoing commitment to their participants while seeking fruitful community engagement. The gardening program called Grendel Grow (started in 2008), for example produces over 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables, the produce is sold at a local health food retailer (Natures Pantry), used in their participant lunch program and preserved for a winter catering program.
The programs are very much in alignment of the TRUST’S mandate, based on a philosophy that true community inclusion is rooted in celebrating people’s diverse life histories, skills and contributions. The gardening and catering program has been run successfully during the last 10 years, and they are moving forward to meet the needs of their participants even better – with a program called “From the Garden to the Kitchen”. This program would better serve the needs of their participants and volunteers in many ways, while hopefully securing a viable income by creating value added products for local consumers. Knowing that the Grendel Group will approach this project diligently and creatively, like all their other venues, I am in support of their plans with a dedication of funds from THE KASSANDRA TRUST in the amount of $ 20,000.— .
Here is an excerpt from the Grendel group’s letter to the Trustee, explaining the program:
“Our participants love to work in the kitchen, and have highly developed kitchen skills. However, big catering jobs (the jobs that usually generate profit) are stressful for staff, volunteers and particularly, our participants. Large catering cooking cannot be paced according to the participant’s work speed. Furthermore, we often find that we rely on volunteers and auxiliary employees to complete large catering contracts. The money that we pay extra staff to complete our catering requirements greatly reduces any income that could be used to pay our participants.
From the Garden to the Kitchen would utilize our garden produce to make value added products that we would sell from our building, through other Smithers’ merchants and at the local Farmers’ Market. For example, we could make soups, pies, canned fruits and vegetables, jams, relishes, herb and flower teas. Our products could be made ahead of time and frozen or canned, thereby, allowing us to make food at a pace appropriate for our participants with disabilities. Our participants would do the work, with support staff in place to assist when necessary, ensuring all food safety requirements are met. Our participants would be involved in all levels of activities, planning, producing and marketing. We want our participant volunteers to be paid for their work from the sales proceeds. We believe our “From the Garden to the Kitchen” has the potential to become a viable social enterprise staffed by adults with disabilities. To that end, we will partner with other BC Social Enterprises, to study how they were able to take their culinary idea and develop it into a social enterprise, capable of employing its participants. Under their mentorship, we will develop a sustainable business plan.”
UPDATE: March 2017 THE KASSANDRA TRUST made a donation of $ 7,000,-- dedicated to the Project “Sik-eh-Dahk Greenhouse”, and Feb 2018 we followed with another $ 18,000,-- to support the affiliated Community Garden. Here is the Newsletter we received from the Gitwangak Hereditary Chiefs and SWCC, outlining a successful Season of growing food and community. Click on link: