The Northern Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI) is a community-based intervention that is designed to increase accessibility to healthy food in northern
and remote Manitoba communities.

In 2003, the Government of Manitoba, Federal Government and non-profit organizations collaborated on a document called the Northern Food Prices Report 2003. This report discusses the multifaceted issues related to high food prices in Northern Manitoba and more importantly discusses strategic options to address economic sustainability in northern communities. From this report, the Northern Healthy Foods Initiative was derived and launched in 2005.

The Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC) was part of the Steering Committee for the initiative and is currently a NHFI regional partner, along with Bayline Regional Round table, Food Matters Manitoba, Four Arrows Regional Health Authority and Frontier School Division. This initiative is NACC’s commitment toward community health.

The Northern Healthy Foods Initiative is managed and directed by Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs and is aimed at all communities that fall within the Aboriginal and Northern Affairs boundary (Figure 1). Guidance and advice is available from an inter-departmental Management Committee including Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Conservation, Health, Healthy Living, Youth & Seniors, Healthy Child Manitoba and Aboriginal & Northern Affairs.

The main role of the NHFI is to obtain and provide resources, equipment, supplies and expertise according to the needs voiced by the communities. A partnership is built to map a success route particular to each northern community.

In order to achieve 100% success and improved health in the north, the NHFI is allocated funding for:
• Administration and Coordination
• Agriculture Support and Training
• Agriculture Material and Equipment

Goals of the NHFI

1. To increase local food production in Northern Manitoba.
2. To develop partnerships and food security networks in Northern Manitoba.
3. To promote food accessibility and healthy eating through the introduction of food preservation and preparation methods.
4. To create an understanding of local and indigenous food products.

Phase 1: Gardening

Planting community gardens is the first step as it encompasses access to healthy food, physical activity, community involvement and opportunities for improvement and growth. Community involvement is vital to the NHFI, to ensure ongoing success, and to trigger community members to bond in a capacity building manner.

The Benefits of Gardening:

  • Healthier communities: A chance to rebuild, form new friendships and to build networks with one another
  • Healthier schools: Broadens the scope of learning and helps to integrate youth into the community
  • Community involvement
  • Inter-generational interaction
  • Feeling of connection to the land
  • Access to fresh and organic food at a low cost, thus leaving spending money for other needs
  • Personal benefits (physical and mental and spiritual exercise)

NHFI Gardening Projects:

1. Plot Gardening
• Community gardens
• Individual gardens
• Container gardens
• Raised bed gardens or above ground gardens
– These gardens are productive for colder temperatures and make it easier for young gardeners and elders to be physically involved

2. Greenhouse Gardening
• Greenhouses are used to start seedlings which require a longer growing period or specific environmental conditions. Plants are started in the greenhouse and transplanted outside when the weather is suitable and the risk of frost has passed.

3. Berry Cultivation
• Strawberry, raspberry and Saskatoon plants are planted

4. Fruit Trees
• Apple, cherry and plum trees are planted

NHFI Implementation:

Agriculture Material and Equipment Provided:

  • Vegetable seeds, seedlings, fruit trees and berry plants compatible to northern environment and soil conditions
  • Soil and peat moss
  • Greenhouse equipment
  • Raised bed building equipment
  • Gardening resources and information
  • Gardening tools
  • Gardening equipment

Agriculture Support and Training Provided:

  • Soil testing
  • Advise on garden site location
  • Greenhouse and raised bed garden training

Phase 2: Livestock Production and Healthy Living Projects

Animal Grazing

  • Chickens:
    Chickens are raised for food and eggs

Bee Keeping

  • Bees are raised for honey and wax products

Healthy Living Projects

1. Composting
2. Home Food Preservation
3. Medicine Plants
4. Nutrition Education
5. FSD Partnership

NHFI Implementation

Agriculture Material and Equipment Provided:

    • Chicks, feed, and operational equipment
    • Composting bins and “how-to” resources
    • Preservation kits, equipment and supplies
    • Medicinal information on plants

Agriculture Support and Training Provided:

    • Chicken production training
    • Advise on chicken operations
    • Preservation workshops: Training on how to safely preserve foods at home
    • Partnership with Frontier School Division

Current NACC Communities Involved in the NHFI

1. Baden

2. Barrows

3. Berens River

4. Camperville

5. Crane River

6. Dauphin River

7. Dawson Bay

8. Duck Bay

9. Easterville

10. Homebrook

11. Mallard

12. Matheson Island

13. Meadow Portage

14. National Mills

15. Pelican Rapids

16. Pine Dock

17. Powell

18. Princess Harbour

19. Red Deer Lake

20. Rock Ridge

21. Seymourville

22. Spence Lake

23. Waterhen

24. Salt Point


For more information please visit: