COWITCHAN VILLAGE, GILFORD ISLAND

The Feeding Britain report is making an impact across the country today – but were there food banks in the past?

There is surprisingly very little information easily available about food banks in ancient times. Our quick search this morning turned up some information about St Mary’s Food Bank, which was established in 1967 as the world’s first food bank. Of course, the tradition of charitably feeding people in need is one of the fundamental aspects of humanity and has likely been happening since the dawn of civilisation as one of the essential aspects of communal living. But, it would appear that the concept of a ‘food bank’ – where individuals or organisations with excess money and food can ‘deposit’ it, and those in need can ‘withdraw’ – is a modern invention.

We’ve found a fascinating story about a group of students in western Canada, who discovered a 1,000 year old ancient food storage system used by the aboriginal Cowichan Tribe.

The excavation of what appears to be an ancient food storage system along the beach of Russell Island, between Fulford Harbour and Swartz Bay, is helping to cast more light on the history and development of local aboriginal groups.Victoria studentshttp://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/blogs/1-000-year-old-first-nations-clam-gardens-unearthed-near-sidney-1.232161

Six years after researchers discovered two clam gardens along the beachfront, University of Victoria students are sifting through sand, gravel and shells to figure out how and when the gardens were built. Some researchers have suggested the gardens helped augment a community’s food supply.

The gardens are beach areas where clams grow naturally and have been enhanced to increase clam production.

‘From some groups of elders we’ve talked to, they say these clam gardens basically acted as food banks,’ said Nathan Cardinal, the cultural resource management adviser for the Gulf Island National Park Reserve. ‘If they couldn’t get enough food to get through the winter, they could come here and grab shellfish.’

For the past three years, anthropology students have pitched their tents and spent May and part of June studying historical aboriginal sites around Vancouver Island. The clam gardens they are studying are small fields built on the beach at low tide with surrounding rock walls. The walls acted as a barrier to keep out seaweed and prevent predators from destroying the growing clams and other shellfish.

Like vegetable gardeners, those who tended the clam beds would till the sand, turning it over to provide the clams more oxygen.

‘It shows that people didn’t passively react to their environment but rather created their own landscape,’ said instructor Eric McLay.

McLay estimates the gardens on Russell Island are at least 1,000 years old. The island was once home to an aboriginal community and the clams may have been used for trade.

Clam gardens are a relatively new discovery for archeologists. The first one was found in the Broughton Archipelago in 1995. Since then, gardens have been discovered along coastlines from B.C. to Alaska.

For the UVic students, this week marks the one time each year that there’s a three-day window when the tides will be lowest, helping them get a clearer picture of the gardens.

Aboriginal representatives have joined the students to help teach about the role the gardens played in their culture.

Phillip Joe, a member of the Cowichan Tribe, said he remembers his grandparents telling him stories about the gardens. ‘The clam gardens are only a little bit of our culture, and there’s a lot more to be explained,’ he said.

Source: the Time Colonist


© Copyright Times Colonist

Always wanted to try archaeology? Now’s your chance!
Join us on the next DigVentures Dirty Weekend.

The excavation of what appears to be an ancient food storage system along the beach of Russell Island, between Fulford Harbour and Swartz Bay, is helping to cast more light on the history and development of local aboriginal groups.

Six years after researchers discovered two clam gardens along the beachfront, University of Victoria students are sifting through sand, gravel and shells to figure out how and when the gardens were built. Some researchers have suggested the gardens helped augment a community’s food supply.

The gardens are beach areas where clams grow naturally and have been enhanced to increase clam production.

“From some groups of elders we’ve talked to, they say these clam gardens basically acted as food banks,” said Nathan Cardinal, the cultural resource management adviser for the Gulf Island National Park Reserve. “If they couldn’t get enough food to get through the winter, they could come here and grab shellfish.”

For the past three years, anthropology students have pitched their tents and spent May and part of June studying historical aboriginal sites around Vancouver Island. The clam gardens they are studying are small fields built on the beach at low tide with surrounding rock walls. The walls acted as a barrier to keep out seaweed and prevent predators from destroying the growing clams and other shellfish.

Like vegetable gardeners, those who tended the clam beds would till the sand, turning it over to provide the clams more oxygen.

“It shows that people didn’t passively react to their environment but rather created their own landscape,” said instructor Eric McLay.

McLay estimates the gardens on Russell Island are at least 1,000 years old. The island was once home to an aboriginal community and the clams may have been used for trade.

Clam gardens are a relatively new discovery for archeologists. The first one was found in the Broughton Archipelago in 1995. Since then, gardens have been discovered along coastlines from B.C. to Alaska.

For the UVic students, this week marks the one time each year that there’s a three-day window when the tides will be lowest, helping them get a clearer picture of the gardens.

Aboriginal representatives have joined the students to help teach about the role the gardens played in their culture.

Phillip Joe, a member of the Cowichan Tribe, said he remembers his grandparents telling him stories about the gardens. “The clam gardens are only a little bit of our culture, and there’s a lot more to be explained,” he said.

– See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/blogs/1-000-year-old-first-nations-clam-gardens-unearthed-near-sidney-1.232161#sthash.YiXdM0sQ.dpuf

The excavation of what appears to be an ancient food storage system along the beach of Russell Island, between Fulford Harbour and Swartz Bay, is helping to cast more light on the history and development of local aboriginal groups.

Six years after researchers discovered two clam gardens along the beachfront, University of Victoria students are sifting through sand, gravel and shells to figure out how and when the gardens were built. Some researchers have suggested the gardens helped augment a community’s food supply.

The gardens are beach areas where clams grow naturally and have been enhanced to increase clam production.

“From some groups of elders we’ve talked to, they say these clam gardens basically acted as food banks,” said Nathan Cardinal, the cultural resource management adviser for the Gulf Island National Park Reserve. “If they couldn’t get enough food to get through the winter, they could come here and grab shellfish.”

For the past three years, anthropology students have pitched their tents and spent May and part of June studying historical aboriginal sites around Vancouver Island. The clam gardens they are studying are small fields built on the beach at low tide with surrounding rock walls. The walls acted as a barrier to keep out seaweed and prevent predators from destroying the growing clams and other shellfish.

Like vegetable gardeners, those who tended the clam beds would till the sand, turning it over to provide the clams more oxygen.

“It shows that people didn’t passively react to their environment but rather created their own landscape,” said instructor Eric McLay.

McLay estimates the gardens on Russell Island are at least 1,000 years old. The island was once home to an aboriginal community and the clams may have been used for trade.

Clam gardens are a relatively new discovery for archeologists. The first one was found in the Broughton Archipelago in 1995. Since then, gardens have been discovered along coastlines from B.C. to Alaska.

For the UVic students, this week marks the one time each year that there’s a three-day window when the tides will be lowest, helping them get a clearer picture of the gardens.

Aboriginal representatives have joined the students to help teach about the role the gardens played in their culture.

Phillip Joe, a member of the Cowichan Tribe, said he remembers his grandparents telling him stories about the gardens. “The clam gardens are only a little bit of our culture, and there’s a lot more to be explained,” he said.

– See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/blogs/1-000-year-old-first-nations-clam-gardens-unearthed-near-sidney-1.232161#sthash.YiXdM0sQ.dpuf

wherein individuals and companies with excess money and food could “deposit” it, and those in need could “withdraw – See more at: http://www.firstfoodbank.org/learn-more/our-history#sthash.3d0Qubh2.dpuf
wherein individuals and companies with excess money and food could “deposit” it, and those in need could “withdraw – See more at: http://www.firstfoodbank.org/learn-more/our-history#sthash.3d0Qubh2.dpuf

Always wanted to try archaeology?

DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Support one of our digs and you can choose to watch our discoveries as they happen, or roll up your sleeves and excavate alongside our team!

Choose a dig
Lisa Westcott Wilkins

Lisa Westcott Wilkins

Co-founder and Managing Director of DigVentures, Lisa makes sure the boxes are ticked, the diggers run on time, and that everyone has a *really* good time along the way. She is responsible for the Americanisms, ridiculously strong site coffee and early morning DV dance parties.

Full Author Profile +