• Mamadou Wade

Halifax Has Highest Levels of Food Insecurity in Canada; Hope Blooms Youth Leader Mamadou Wade Weigh

A report published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health says Nova Scotia and Halifax have the highest levels of food insecurity in the country. This is quite difficult to internalize, namely because of the efforts the project I’m apart makes, in an effort to smoothen this setback in my community.

From the perspective of a native North Ender, this is evident, and a legitimate and serious issue. It’s frustrating in a sense because through the Hope Blooms program we possess a community garden which is youth-led. In the past year we grew about 3000 pounds of fruits and vegetables, which is the equivalent of 9000 tomatoes or 150,000 beans or even 400,000 leafs of lettuce to put in perspective, and on top of that it is totally given back to the community, free of cost.

Along with a newly built, state of the art greenhouse donated by “BuildRight Nova Scotia” we will be able to grow more than ever. For youth, there are few places where they feel they have control over anything or where they can be themselves without judgement. Hope Blooms youth are empowered to take control and actively steer the program in the right direction. In doing so, they take ownership over their contributions and are able to experience the true freedoms and effects of their efforts. Through hosting monthly community suppers for upwards of 40 people, teaching other youth, parents and neighbors how to grow food, preparing organic soups for seniors, or donating portions of the herb dressing proceeds to supporting other community building efforts, these youth are learning and teaching others that the path to self-actualization is also a path to generosity.

So, you may be thinking “Why does his community and the city he lives in have the highest level of food security in the country?” I don’t have a definitive answer to this question, but rather a piece of advice: “PLANT SOME S**T!” This is the philosophy of Ron Finley, a man who plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA -- in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."

His story resonates with ours, an inner city community gardens and the idea of defying the odds and producing beauty, a motivation that kindles in my heart and the hearts of my friends. And the simple fact that this is reality so, we must grow even more, and to feed more and make sure my community is well, because it is our duty! Being a youth does not define whether or not we can make change, but to create impact requires dedication to change. Hopefully, Halifax can improve in this area by the time next year comes around.