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Heart and soil

Pye Centre website launches; research principles and policies released

By Mandy Cook

Even if you’re not physically located in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, you can still explore the 80-acre expanse of the Pye Centre for Northern Boreal Food Systems on the shores of the Grand River.

The centre’s new website, launched today, features numerous aerial photographs and artistic renderings of the farm, in all its fertile glory. Plus a pumpkin or two.

1/ Bird's eye view

The market vegetable fields at the Pye Centre with Grand River in the background.

Photo: Bird's Eye Inc.

2/ Who wants pumpkin pie?

Former farm owner Joyce Pye with last year's pumpkins.

Photo: Submitted

3/ Space for growth

An aerial view of the community space building and incubator plots.

Photo: Bird's Eye Inc.

4/ Harvests to come

The forage fields will see crops like hay and corn grown here in future harvests.

Photo: Bird's Eye Inc.

5/ Always remembered

The late and former owner Frank Pye with a magnificent crop of delicious tomatoes.

Photo: Submitted

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, interim dean of the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at the Labrador Institute, says the release of the website is an exciting milestone in the evolution of the Pye Centre.

“Today is not just a website launch – it’s a celebration of the vision for the Pye Centre, and the release of our research principles and policies,” Dr. Cunsolo said. “We are delighted to be sharing our developments over this past year and our plans for the Pye Centre moving forward.”

Food security hub

The site is the central place for sharing and learning about the Pye Centre’s community farm-based research, farm education and training programs, and engagement and connection with farmers, community, and industry, including a variety of educational and training programs, for all ages and skill levels; incubator plots for new farmers to help ease their entry into the profession; and plans for large community space, with an outdoor classroom, community gardens, and a children’s garden.

An illustration of the Pye Centre, including future plans for the land, by Alex Sawatzky, the centre’s special projects manager.
Photo: Alex Sawatzky

Importantly, the website is also the place to access the research policies and principles for conducting research at or with the Pye Centre, including a short research application form. The Pye Centre is looking forward to hosting students and researchers from throughout Memorial and across the province and country, and researchers are invited to submit proposals to access plots or space, or to connect with the centre on a diverse range of Northern boreal food systems research.

The work has been realized through the centre’s clearly articulated vision: “The Pye Centre will serve as a centre of research, education and training excellence to support, promote and enhance food security, production and distribution in Labrador.”

The site also features a blog, titled Heart and Soil, which will feature profiles of people across Labrador who are passionate about growing, cooking, eating and sharing food. Significantly, there is an acknowledgement of the fact that the Pye Centre’s activities take place on the homeland of Innu and Inuit of Labrador, recognizing their ancestral and continuing ties to the lands and waters of Labrador.

Those ties resulted in a design aesthetic that evokes a sense of place, and connectedness to community and the land, says Dr. Alex Sawatsky, the site’s illustrator and the centre’s special projects manager.

“Relationships with peoples, lands and waters of Labrador are essential to our work at the Pye Centre and the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at the Labrador Institute, and it was important to me to honour and prioritize those relationships across the website, and our online presence in general,” she said.

‘Exciting and unique’

Dr. Cunsolo says the Pye Centre is the physical manifestation of Memorial University’s commitment to promoting agricultural growth in the province through leading-edge research and educational opportunities.

“As one of the only university-led research and education farms located in a Northern region, it is an exciting and unique facility, not only in the province, but also in the country.”

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