East Coast Tour – Notes from the Road #5

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By Kristen Lavallee

October 1st.
We all awoke from our slumber with Andrea being our radio host to wake us up, and Jessica singing and dancing around while the rest of us rested in our sleeping bags on the floor of the Chapel in Mount Alison, Sackville, NB. The team was excited for the day as there were a couple learning opportunities ahead of us.

Something which I really appreciate from the tour is our own personal opportunities to learn and grow, instead of only being the play artists and teachers through workshops. Learning is vital to the human experience and it’s important for us all to keep learning, especially about the communities that we encounter, to become inspired and see people taking tangible action.

To welcome in this autumn season, we started the day with the Community Forests International, Sackville Community Garden and Open Sky Co-Operative. With open minds and open hearts, we cycled to our first destination ready to learn.

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Olivia and Esther from the Sackville Community Garden and the Community Forests International were patiently awaiting our arrival preparing the outdoor wood fire burning oven to hot temperatures for our lunch festivities. It was a cold and wet morning, a storm rolling over into the day from the night before. As we all arrived to the community garden, we all huddled closely around the wood burning oven and warmed ourselves up, learning all about the garden and this fine beauty of an outdoor oven. Olivia explained to us all about the cooking times for certain foods. For example, to bake bread, it takes roughly 6 hours to warm up the oven to the right temperature, but the bread would be cooked and ready within 20 mins with a crispy outside and a delightful fluffy interior. We harvested potatoes from the earth and cooked them as an appetizer. They were right crispy on the outside and perfectly toasty on the inside. They made for great hand warmers before feeding our bellies and were quite delicious.

After awhile hanging out around the wood oven, we made our way to the location of the Community Forests International. Esther showed us around their food forest. It was remarkable! The forest planted 5 years ago has grown with such resiliency to the challenges of Mother Nature. There are two forests growing within the forest, one with indigenous plants and the other with non-indigenous plants. Growing in these forests are apples, lemon balm, wild grapes, echinacea, elderberries, cranberries and a myriad of other plants.

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We had the opportunity to walk through the forests to harvest apples, cranberries and elderberries. Esther then happily showed us how to make both an elderberry tincture and cranberry tincture which both have healing properties. Seeing this happen made me feel as though I in fact want to follow my dreams of attending herbalist school.

Once we were done with the learning opportunity (all of our bellies grumbling from being around the lavishing forest of food), we made our way back to the wood oven and cooked some lovely pizzas for lunch. Some of our teammates’ shoes were a little wet and cold, so after making lunch a couple of the girls decided to take off their shoes and socks and roast them on the side of the oven in hopes that they would become dry. Of course, with fear that the fire would melt the shoes and time coming to a close, they decided to retract that idea. We thanked Esther and Olivia for their hospitality, warmth and knowledge sharing, leaving with hopes and deep inspiration. We then cycled in the cold for roughly 20 mins to The Open-Sky Co-op.

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Upon arrival at The Open-Sky Co-op, we were greeted by Norm and Margaret. The seven of us shuffled into the building ready to perform. We were greeted with much warmth and nourishment of chocolate zucchini brownies, tea and coffee. We had an audience of about 20 individuals who were very receptive and asked us many questions. Afterwards they gave us a tour of the farm, which houses 2 donkeys, 3 goats, plenty of chickens and turkeys, and 2 large gardens which are part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. You can learn more about the Co-op here:

Our day was filled with real-life examples of individuals seeing a need for something and taking the power into their hands to make a positive difference in their communities. Overall we left feeling inspired, elated and full. This day definitely impacted us individually in a special way.

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