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Hoop House Gardening in the Wapekeka First Nation as an Extension of Land-Based Food Practices

Heather A. Thompson, Courtney W. Mason, Michael A. Robidoux


Rural Indigenous communities in Canada’s North face many challenges getting regular access to nutritious foods, primarily because of the high cost of market food, restricted availability of nutritious foods, and lack of government support for nutritious food programs. The consequences of food insecurity in this context are expressed in high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and childhood obesity. Many Indigenous communities are responding to issues related to healthy food access by attempting to rebuild local food capacity in their specific regions. Important first steps have been taken in developing local food initiatives, yet whether these initiatives are improving northern food security remains to be seen. We explore this question by working with the Oji-Cree First Nation in the community of Wapekeka, northern Ontario, to construct a hoop house and develop a school-based community gardening program. Using a community-based participatory approach, we determined that hoop house and gardening initiatives in rural, northern settings have the potential to build up local food production, develop the skills and knowledge of community members, engage youth in growing local food, and align with land-based food teachings. We show that despite widespread and multidimensional community hardships, there was considerable community buy-in and support for the project, which gives hope for future development and provides important insight for those seeking to initiate similar gardening, hoop house, or greenhouse initiatives in northern Indigenous communities.


Canada; Wapekeka First Nation; food security; local food systems; hoop house; greenhouses; gardening; Indigenous health; sustainability; traditional food

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