It Takes a Community to Build a Community

The Sun is Coming Out: Ne’ata’q, The Food Forest at Bluenose Academy

Picture a school playground at recess.

A few kids play tag through an orchard of apple and plum trees.

In spring they watch the blossoms drop and in autumn they stop to pick the fruit. 

Another group of children begin a game with “loose parts,” pebbles, shells and sand, in a garden of wildflowers.

A few others find a quiet space on a bench next to beds of lavender, sage and mint. 

It sounds magical, doesn’t it? 

This is the vision of Ne’ata’q: The Food Forest at Bluenose Academy.

 A food forest is a very old idea that is regaining popularity. It involves growing food in ways that mimic the complexity of a forest. 

Rather than planting apple trees in rows surrounded by grass, for example, a food forest would see different types of trees planted together and surrounded by herbs, flowers, shrubs, and bushes. 

The plants work together to attract pollinators, repel pests, and fertilize the soil, as well as produce food for humans, birds, and other animals.

Planning for the food forest at Bluenose Academy began in the fall of 2021. 

From the beginning, the project was a collaboration between the school and residents of Lunenburg. 

One of our first conversations was with Shawn Feener, Regional Coordinator of Mi’kmaw Education Services with the South Shore Regional Centre for Education. 

Shawn spoke with us about Netukulimk, the understanding that people, plants, animals, and the environment are necessarily linked in many diverse ways. Together, we create an interconnected community.

Shawn also helped select a name for the food forest. Ne’ata’q means “the sun is coming out” in the Mi’kmaw language. It is the perfect reflection of joy and renewal we hope for the forest, as well as a reminder that we live in the unceded ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaw people.

The project has begun to receive generous support – financial, moral, and volunteer – from individuals, organizations, businesses, and foundations in the South Shore area. 

Over the coming months, we will continue to raise funds and awareness, with the goal of hosting community events to prepare the ground and begin planting at the school.

Through this column, “The Sun is Coming Out,” we will share stories of the food forest: how and why food forests work, what’s new at Ne’ata’q, and how you can connect to our growing community!

Learn more and contact us:


One response to “It Takes a Community to Build a Community”

  1. Clare Parks

    Looking forward to seeing this happen! My grandchildren attend this school. I hope we can all be involved!

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