The Beaconia Research Station is an 18-acre farm on the eastern shores of Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest lake in the world. An adjacent field has remained fallow for over 20 years. In that time the field has returned to wild prairie grasses and thistles and Beaconia Research Station sought a dedicated off-the-grid Permaculture solution to revive this land. Kitigay (the Anishinaabe phrase for “to plant”) was established as a permaculture community farm on the land, with goals of offering education programming that builds community and restores the ecosystem. The goal is to feed the community through a food forest and ensure sufficient safe drinking water for their community because the artesian wells are running dry. Kitigay is also striving to include elders and youth to build strong Indigenous food systems working with nature. Techniques associated with Rudolph Steiner’s biodynamic approach to agriculture are also being researched in relation to the land.
Planting wild rice along rivers and marshes creates food for humans and wildlife biodiversity. Wild rice is an important cultural food for the Anishinaabe First Nations peoples. Almost 100 kg of wild rice have been planted along the Beaconia marshes and the Brokenhead River with experts, Brokenhead community members, Wildman Ricing guru, Tony Atkins and Elder Angela Dumas. Kitigay is becoming a Boreal Food Forest Paradise, reconciling our relationship with the land. Through learning and living on the land we aim to bring peace, mino bimaadiziwin (good lifeways).
Installations of fruit trees and saskatoon bushes have begun, as well as a field of garlic. Kitigay has also held several workshops with planting of native species, has experimented successfully with Indigenous traditional fire for land management and is renovating an old school bus to safely house heritage hens for a backyard egg business and community food security at Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. Beekeeping and organic gardening are planned as well as traditional Indigenous tepee housing. Kitigay works in partnership with Mino Bimaadiziwin Partnership at the University of Manitoba, Kitigay Internship Program 2021 at Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and Beaconia Research Station.
Restoration of livelihoods