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Connecting Our Communities

Food a focus of Woolwich Healthy Communities Month


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Good food is fundamental to good health. It’s no surprise, then, that food will play a key role in activities related to Woolwich Healthy Communities Month in April, as the popular A Taste of Woolwich event gets things rolling on April 7.

Among those singing the benefits of local food is the Elmira and District Horticultural Society’s Barb Finn, who runs the Junior Garden Club.

“It’s amazing how interested the kids are week to week when they arrive at the garden. The first time it is completely brown. Each week they see how readily the natural world can respond to not only the sun and the rain but also their cultivating,” she said, hoping to get kids out again this year.

“A big part of the theme is inspiring young people to come up with their own recipes and grow their own food,” notes Joy Finney of Woolwich Healthy Communities.

“There’s so much concern right now in terms of health. Some people are suggesting that we are creating a food environment that supports unhealthy behaviour rather than healthy behaviour; it’s really about wanting to turn that around and create an environment where we are reminded just how fresh and delicious local product can be.”

A Taste of Woolwich will introduce visitors to other activities planned for the month ahead with demonstrations by the Junior Gardeners Club and presentations on healthy lifestyles and workplaces.

About 25-30 local producers will be rubbing shoulders with visitors at the event, a chance to find out where and how to buy local. Sixteen-year-old Colin Rier a chef at the Butterfly Conservatory Café will be holding a cooking presentation with help from Winterbourne’s Mac and Coleton Benham. Mac Benham, 10, also developed a recipe book and a blog called Ontario Future Foodies.

The month’s activities bring to the forefront the region’s overall focus on health, Finney said.

“One of the concerns in the Region of Waterloo is that we have a really low level of people being physically active,” she said.

Especially in the townships, health efforts are focused on stimulating less dependency on cars.

“That’s part of the reason they put the walking track into the [Woolwich Memorial Centre]; it’s just ways to try and encourage us to be physically active. That’s one of the reasons the on-road cycling group got going and the Woolwich Trails Group.”

Despite being surrounded by local produce, only 63 per cent of rural residents met the daily fruit and vegetable requirement of five to 10 servings, according to a survey completed by the Woolwich Community Health Centre in 2010.

Next month’s activities will strive to find strength in numbers, Finney said.

“I find that when I link up with people that have similar interests and enjoy doing things together – I meet a friend and we go walking every morning – it really helps me find people with similar interests and to do things with them. That’s part of the purpose of Healthy Communities, to try and create a place where people can connect.”

On tap this month are also the annual Trees for Woolwich tree plantings, which will continue throughout the summer. The group has planted more than 9,000 trees around the township since 2011. This year a Quilt Block Challenge asks groups and residents to submit a piece of fabric for a quilt featuring trees. Rules of the challenge and more information on Woolwich Healthy Communities activities through out spring and summer can be found on www.healthywoolwich.org.

The eighth annual version of A Taste of Woolwich takes place from 5-8 p.m. at St. Teresa of Avila Church (19 Flamingo Dr.) in Elmira.

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The new face of health promotion

There’s a new face around the Woolwich Community Health Centre. Gebre Berlihun has taken on the role of public health promoter after the retirement of 25-year employee Joy Finney in October.

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