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Harvesting with the Galiano Community Food Program by Janice Oakley

Harvesting with the Galiano Community Food Program by Janice Oakley

For me, the harvest season brings out deep and ancient yearnings for tribe, clan or family…. What ever that is that makes us feel safe, loved and gives us the sense of belonging to something bigger. Since the industrial revolution and the shift to the nuclear family model something changed how we played out the bringing in of food to carry us over the dark and cold months of the year. An isolation from the larger group began to form. We are inherently a tribal animal….. for tens of thousands of years we relied on one another for survival. It is only through study that we begin to understand these vague yearnings for ritual and togetherness.

These days it is through our food program that so much of these clannish cravings are being met for me. From planning crops that suit soup making by and for seniors to digging holes for fence posts at the school garden these activities satisfy the communal soul in me. When strangers email that they have an orchard that they would like to share the fruit from or an extra food dehydrator some rich chord is struck inside. Learning skills like salmon smoking or foraging the shores of Montague allows those of us long out of touch with providing for ourselves to follow those who have never forgotten. Friendly farmers ready to share labour for food seem to sprouting up all around us and it is through agriculture this summer that a new part of Galiano’s Food Program has grown. The challenging aspects of growing food are that it is a somewhat unpredictable yet demands constant nuturing dare I say commitment. Even on these laid back islands we are as busy as ever with jobs, children and domestic responsibilities not to mention the variety of community responsibilities in a small community that wants to enjoy the same richness as larger populations. So balancing yet another element, food production, becomes a whole added layer. I would point out though that not only is the quality of produce exceptional the connections made to the Earth and each other in the field over the course of a season are phenomenal. I am both humbled and exhilarated by growing food with friends and neighbours. We are simultaneously students, teachers, scientists and spiritual warriors when we undertake such lofty projects as this.

So my advice to anyone, anywhere would be to join in with your local efforts to honour the ancient pull in us to share our efforts and food as often as possible. The joy in the communal is the closest thing to happiness I have felt in my 50 years.