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‘Food is folk’: the importance of community gardening

One market harvester wants to work on de-centralizing the food system in B.C.
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When Sophia Jackson says ‘food is folk’, she means that all naturally grown food has a story, art, or expressive culture behind it. (Contributed to Black Press by Sophia Jackson)

The phrase “famous for five miles” is Sophia Jackson’s mantra.

The idea stems from author Gary Snyder and is intended to focus on the impact we want to make within five miles of our community.

Jackson has applied that to her practices as a market gardener. New to the profession but familiar with the world of food, she has always been adjacent to nature, coming from the Cariboo. Her parents, Siegfried and Stephanie Klausat, moved to the Cariboo in 1976 and run a business called Timothy Lake Farm Products, specializing in flowers, vegetables and tomato plants.

“I’ve only just started this. I haven’t been doing this for long. I’m very much a novice gardener still,” said Jackson.” So they are the experts, and I’m learning from them.”

After spending some time in Edinburgh working as an event coordinator, she returned to the Okanagan, where her love for food and making community connections began to amalgamate. She believes if she is “famous” for five miles and has an abundant garden, she can help feed families within a five-mile radius.

“Another person, let’s say, maybe they’re doing honey, or maybe they’re doing some other product that lends to our collective well-being. We loop it together and we create a very secure food system.”

Jackson says she is focused on de-centralizing access to food in her community, which was a turning point for her when it came to food production when she worked at True Grain Bread in Summerland as the bakery manager.

“The owners of this little business are so passionate about organic and supporting local farmers. They use only B.C.-grown organic grain in all their breads and baked goods. Working for that bakery changed my perspective on food and made me very aware of how far some of our industrial food travels.”

Jackson mentioned fast food chains and how a single item can travel thousands of kilometres, from production to shipping to arriving in the hands of a B.C. consumer.

“Is it worth it? I’ve been very hyper-aware of how far away and how centralized our food systems are in Canada and how dangerous that is.”

Jackson recalled the 2021 floods throughout the Fraser Valley wiped out thousands of crops and resulting in a massive loss of livestock. She described how the grocery store shelves were barren within two days. She said it would benefit not only us as humans but also the Earth’s health if food did not have to travel so far to be used as nourishment.

Jackson is also shifting her focus to organizing garden parties for children and adults interested in learning more about creating their own sustainable food sources.

“I am involved with a few local organizers in town who arrange these events, which I’m really enjoying,” said Jackson. “That’s what I’m building towards, being ‘famous for five miles.’”

Heavily influenced by folklore, her other favourite saying is “food is folk,” meaning naturally grown food also comes with a story, art or expressive culture behind it.

The name of Jackson’s company, Mother Hulda’s Garden, is inspired by German folklore as a salute to her German family, who have gardened for generations. The Mother Hulda is the anglicized version of Frau Holle, a beloved winter character from German folklore tales. It is told that she is why the snow falls and that snowflakes are a result of her shaking her feather blanket.

Growing up in an immigrant family, Jackson learned English speakers do not pronounce words like Germans, so she opted for the anglicized version. This way, she can promote ancient stories by naming her business after one to keep her ancestral traditions alive.

Through her garden marketing, she wants to provide fresh farm vegetables primarily to the closest people — neighbours and community members of 100 Mile and Lac La Hache. She said the support she’s received from people around the area has been encouraging.

“The centralized food, industrial production of food, it ruins the spirit of the food, and we are what we eat. So when your food is dead, it’s been trucked for so long, or it’s been industrially made, you’re not getting the real nutrition, you’re not getting the right spirit of the food,” said Jackson.

“We are all connected to the earth that grows our food.”

Mother Hulda’s Garden is located on Timothy Lake Road in Lac La Hache and at the South Cariboo Farmers Market on Fridays.


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Jackson is currently focusing on harvesting freshly grown elephant garlic for this year’s South Cariboo Garlic Festival. (Contributed to Black Press by Sophia Jackson)