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Locals meet in Virgin Arm to promote food security

Healthy eating and healthy living

NEW WORLD ISLAND, NL – Gardeners, bakers and other food entrepreneurs from New World Island came together on Friday, March 9 to encourage the practice of growing and purchasing local food.

The New World Island 50 Plus Club hosted the day of presentations, demonstrations and samples at the Lion’s Den in Virgin Arm.

Club president Harley Farr hopes the event helped make the community aware of local food options and encouraged others to get involved with home grown agriculture as well.

“If you live in a senior’s home, you might not know there are people across the area growing and selling their own food,” said Farr. “This allowed people to share with each other and the presenters to promote their skills.”

The event’s speakers offered a variety of information. Marie Poirier-Newman representing the Newfoundland Milk Federation spoke on the importance of milk as a source of vitamin D and calcium, and Gerald Peddle spoke about growing herbs indoors during winter.

Dwight Budden discussed raising quail and brought out quail eggs for his presentation.

Farr says around 60 people attended the presentations, and the quail eggs were a particularly intriguing sight at the sampling table.

“You should’ve seen the people going for the quail eggs,” he said.

Phillip Thornley of Campbellton Berry Farm discussed preserving berries by drying or turning into jam. He felt the day’s activities were a successful approach to promoting food security in the province.

“On any sort of scale, whether growing on a farm or in your own backyard, they should all be supported,” Thornley said. “We certainly need it.”

Summerford gardener John Anstey demonstrated composting and container gardening techniques, like growing quality carrots in a five-gallon bucket.

“I compost everything when it comes to house waste,” said Anstey. “Not meat or bones, but seaweed, grass, sawdust, all that stuff.

“I’m not wasting anything and what I grow I preserve in the winter time besides.”

Anstey hopes some were encouraged to try their hand at gathering some buckets and growing vegetables in them. In his more than 10 years of gardening, Anstey says the unique gardening style has proven successful.

“It’s a good past time and it’s good for your health,” he said.

Jayshree Subramanian brought both her microbakery and healthy living insights to Virgin Arm.

She opened her presentation by explaining the importance of healthy and organic food, as well as the importance of reading labels.

“We should all be going for organically grown food; especially with so many cancers and diseases on the rise,” she said. “If the ingredients list is so long you need a magnifying glass to read it, my recommendation is to throw it in the trash because that means it’s got a lot of chemicals and preservatives the body doesn’t recognize as food.”

Subramanian runs her Living Bread bakery out of Pike’s Arm for much of the year, baking purely natural bread products. Her motto is to grow food directly from its source.

“It’s the healthiest kind of bread you can eat; it’s reminiscent of the way breads were made in ancient times,” she said. “I ground fresh flour and use that immediately to bake bread that goes through a 24-hour fermentation.”

Subramanian says the group was receptive to her presentation, and she hopes some will seek further lessons to make their own organic bread.

“It was a really great group and really good evening we had,” she said.

Farr hopes to follow up with a farmer’s market in the fall and further encourage Newfoundlanders to avail of local and healthier food options.

“To show that there are local food options available and that you don’t have to always depend on outside sources for groceries – I think we succeeded in doing that,” he said.

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