Belmont Bulldogs Keith Williamson

Food growers in Highlands band together

After a group of Highlands residents got together for a seed swap they ended up forming a community group about producing local food.

After a group of Highlands residents got together for a seed swap they ended up forming a community group about producing local food.

The Highlands “local food group” meets monthly and has about 25 members who actively attend meetings. The group has been meeting regularly since April.

“We talk about how to grow food, who has the best parsnips, and seed swapping,” said Ann Baird, a group member.

“It’s about building a community,” added Gord Baird, Ann’s husband. “Then the community can grow more food.”

“You want the kids to think (growing food is magic) but you don’t want adults to think it’s magic when it just appears on the shelves,” said Warren Lee, a member of the group.

Each month the group meets at a member’s garden. After a tour, they enjoy a potluck and conversation.

“The main gist behind the group is you get to learn from and share stories,” Lee said.

Ann and Gord focus on growing 100 per cent of the vegetables their family consumes. They’ve also been learning how to create soil out of composting weeds and unwanted plants such as Scotch broom.

“We keep cutting broom and weeds and make a big pile, then we cover it with goat manure and plant squash,” Ann said.

After the gardening season, the pile becomes soil and is then used throughout the garden.

The local food group is made up of members with varying knowledge on gardening and food production.

“The group is about helping people get started with whatever skills they have,” Ann said. “It’s just everybody helping everyone else.”

Lee, a climate scientist, has just started getting into gardening with his family.

“We are working on building a garden,” Lee said. His family has also started raising rabbits, but just as pets for now.

“This group is building a sense of community and the ability to share knowledge,” Lee said. He said it’s nice to have a personal contact for information instead of just looking in books.

The group helps Ann when she “has five million zucchinis and no cucumbers.”

Through the group the Bairds and Lee have learned about other Highlanders who are raising their own beef and others who are growing their own wheat.

“It doesn’t have to be farm land to grow food,” Ann said.

Even though the Bairds have a full garden, a green house, fruit and nut tress and chickens, Gord said the group is teaching them that, “we don’t know much.”

For more information on the Highlands Local Food Group or to join email



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