Chicken coops, garden projects aim to reduce food insecurity at BOCN
- Alanna Remmen | September 20, 2019
The Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation (BOCN) has started a chicken coops and garden projects which gained a lot of interest from community members.
The BOCN Willow Cree Health Services offered two large projects aimed to reduce the burden of food insecurity this summer. The projects were largely successful, and community members are excitedly waiting to hear what will be offered next.
“We announced funding for nine backyard coops last summer. Families applied to receive a backyard coop, chicks, and starter feed, bedding, and more,” said Alanna Remmen, BOCN Community Dietician and Diabetes Educator. “The Willow Cree Healing Lodge built and placed the coops with families. Experienced chicken keepers acted as mentors for the families new to looking after chickens.”
To date, the project has run relatively seamless. Although predators were a large concern, a carefully crafted coop design helped keep chickens safe. Interest was maintained by offering competitions throughout the summer – Cleanest Coop, Most Artistic Coop, etc. Families have the option to keep their chickens for eggs over the winter, or to butcher their chickens in the fall. Classes will be offered on butchering chickens and cooking with chickens and eggs. Many families have grown attached to their chickens, with children and parents alike considering them to be quirky pets.
The Backyard Gardening Initiative is the other community project that is coming to a close after a second successful summer. Families that registered developed a garden space in their backyard where they learned how to do sod lifting, rototilling, free seeds, and free workshops throughout the summer were offered. Competitions such as the Best Tended Garden, Best Garden Presentation, and Strangest Looking Vegetable took place in order to maintain interest. Approximately thirty gardens were successfully harvested over the past few weeks. The garden project will be wrapping up with a Farmers Market on October 3rd, where gardeners will have the opportunity to sell their produce.
“We’re looking forward to expanding the garden project by offering a variety of fruit trees and berry bushes next year. The chicken coop project will also expand by two more coops in the spring of 2020!” said Remmen.