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Organic Granny Sets Example

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Forty-six-year-old Janine Gibson of Steinbach, Man., is both a grandmother and an outstanding leader in the international organic farm movement. I am pleased to report she is also a consultant for our Back to the Farm Research Foundation.

Forty-six-year-old Janine Gibson of Steinbach, Man., is both a grandmother and an outstanding leader in the international organic farm movement. I am pleased to report she is also a consultant for our Back to the Farm Research Foundation.

Janine started her career at a very early age working in an organic food co-operative in Winnipeg in the late '70s and early '80s. Before that, she spent much of her youth on her grandparents' farm, where she learned to respect family farming and the work involved in growing good food.

In the '80s and early '90s, her many projects included teaching health and nutrition classes to single mothers in Winnipeg's "inner city," establishing a self-sustainable co-operative farm at Steinbach, studying human ecology at the University of Manitoba, and raising two children, Arel (24) and Andrew (22), on organic food.

Janine is no less busy these days. She is now president of the Canadian Organic Growers organization, which has about 2,000 members and is made up of organic farmers, gardeners and interested consumers across Canada. She is also secretary for the board of directors of the Independent Organic Inspectors Association, which trains organic inspectors from all over the world.

As if that's not enough, this amazing woman teaches a correspondence course on organic inspection that is offered at Assiniboine College in Brandon, Man., and has been held in many other communities. She qualified as an organic inspector about 10 years ago and since then has conducted more than 1,000 farm inspections in Canada and the northern United States. Eight years ago she began training organic inspectors.

Last August, Janine came to our demonstration farm in Davidson to inspect the operation and share her expertise on intercropping, which is growing two or more crops in the same field simultaneously to control weeds or bugs or to improve the soil maybe all three under certain circumstances.

Intercropping relies on the science of "allelopathy," a relatively new term meaning the study of relationships between plants. (In fact, people have been studying which plants either don't get along or support each other for centuries.) Because of the many farms she visits, Janine is able to advise us on the combinations of crops that have been tried elsewhere.

She is very proud of the organic community for its support and help editing and updating of the national organic standards. She's also pleased to have had the opportunity, as president of Canadian Organic Growers, to host the International Federation of Agricultural Movements conference last August in Victoria, BC.

Indeed, the organic movement not to mention our foundation is lucky to have her.

There is an old saying, "What goes around comes around." When I was growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan in the 1930s, we didn't have a federal Health Protection Branch or a ministry of health: My grandmother and mother decided what was healthy and safe for me to eat. Today, we are rapidly moving back to this position.

Janine Gibson, grandmother, has a lot of influence and a very strong voice in determining for all Canadians and our customers abroad what is safe to eat today. I urge other grandmothers and mothers to join her campaign to provide safe and nutritious food for our nation.

Show Your Support!

Canadian Organic Growers is the only direct dues-paying, organic policy organization in Canada. One of its main services is a resource library that includes a large selection of books on growing organic. It pays the postage both ways for any member who wants to borrow books. In addition, it publishes The Eco-Farm and Garden magazine four times a year and hosts organic conferences in a variety of locations.

Annual membership is $35.

For information, contact:
Canadian Organic Growers
Ottawa, Ontario
K2A 3Y6
Canada
Phone: (613) 231-9047
E-mail: info@cog.ca
Website: cog.ca

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