Progress report for FNC21-1313
This grant allowed us to start a community composting program. We hosted composting activities once a month starting in June of 2021. At this first workshop we give the participants a test to check their knowledge of composting principles. As a group they scored 40% correct answers. At our last composting workshop which was held in September of 2021 we again gave the group the same test, and they scored 81% correct.
Before receiving this grant, the Oneida Nation’s organic farm did carry out sustainable practices. They actually did many different types of activities around sustainability, but the one that is most prevalent for these purposes would be the community compost mounds. Where this grant concentrated on utilizing a tumbler and bin for composting, the farm had mounds which they would occasionally turn.
There are 15,272 American Indians living in the Outagamie County-Brown County area. Beginning in the late 19th century and continuing to today the American Indian people living in this area have had much of their traditional agricultural culture stripped from them of which composting was a major part. This project will reintroduce various traditional activities related to soil preservation and enhancement and their effects on food production and nutrition. It is our belief that by bringing Native people back to their traditional food production and consumption methods we can improve their health, strengthen the community’s food sovereignty and food chain, and increase the community’s access to fresh foods. Our project would introduce several types of usable composting units onto our farm and make them available to the community as a means of disposing of food waste and later as a location where composted materials can be obtained for gardening and crop production. We would focus on the use of composters as tools not just for commercial or personal use, but as a tool for the preservation and protection of the environment. Our project would also, in addition to demonstrations, include the sharing of educational materials with local school districts.
- To reintroduce various traditional activities related to soil preservation and enhancement.
At our workshops, we not only demonstrated and presented composting handouts to the participants, but we also discussed the importance of soil health and various techniques to improve soil health. Some of the articles/topics discussed were: Healthy Soils = Healthy Food,
What is Ending Up in Wisconsin Landfills, The World Waste’s 1 Billion Tons of Food a Year and Sustainability.
- To assist Native producers, including farmers market producers to utilize compost production methods as a means of improving soil health and increasing garden production.
At each of the monthly workshops we always were sure to not only demonstrate various composting methods, but also gave the participants literature that they could take home with them. Some of the topics discussed were: Things You Didn’t Know You Could Compost, A Beginner’s Guide to Composting, Easy Steps to Prevent Food Waste and Trench Composting With Kitchen Scraps. Partnered with Iowa State University to give access to the following YouTube videos: How to Take a Soil Sample, How to Test Soil Health, How to Complete the DIY (Do It Yourself) Aggregate Stability Test, How to Complete the DIY Bulk Density Test, How to Complete the DIY Water Holding Capacity Test, and How to Complete the DIY Earthworm Abundance Test.
- To demonstrate several types of usable composting units and make them available to the community for their use.
The demonstrations/workshops that we hosted in 2021 utilized a 106-gallon tumbler to demonstrate and create compost that the community participants could then take home with them and put in their gardens. We also furnished them with a food grade 5 gallon bucket for this purpose. A 2 Ton Fermenting Bin was also purchased with this grant, and we hope to utilize that in our 2022 demonstrations/workshops.
- To introduce the next generation of agriculture producers to the idea of composting as a farming tool.
We were able to arrange for a 10th grade class from the Oneida High School to come out to our composting worksite and participate in a demonstration before school was let out. During the summer demonstrations we had 2 community youth that attended our demonstrations. During the early fall months, we purchased a publication entitled ‘Composting For Youth’ which we will distribute to the Oneida High School this spring.
- To share our findings with local community through newspaper articles and on site demonstrations.
We did share our finds through local newspapers including: the Tribal Kalihwisaks, Seymour Advertising News, Freedom Pursuit and Coffee News. In addition, we posted them on the Oneida Farmers Market social media outlets: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google.
The project steps will include:
- The development and collection of educational materials including handouts for hands-on demonstrations and expanded education materials selected to work in conjunction with local school classes and farm visits.
- The project will purchase the composting equipment using a 3-bid process to identify the best available price for the products required.
- The project will be announced in local newspapers and online to encourage participation and to solicit support in the form of donated compostable materials at the farm.
- The readied compost will be used on the farm to improve farm soil for growing Oneida White Corn
- In the latter stages of the project compost will be distributed to community small farmers and gardeners.
- Crops will be harvested and compared to previous harvests.
- Participants will be continually surveyed to determine the success of the project. All of these activities will be conducted throughout the project and beyond.
The primary target of the project will be Tsyunhehkwa’s white corn field which currently produces at a rate 1/3 that of other corn producers in the area. The alternate locations will be community managed small farms and gardens. We do not anticipate using test plots as we have substantial data available related to Tsyunhehkwa’s previous production level.
We will promote participation through the use of local advertising, handouts at our farmer’s market, and community word of mouth. Methods to be used will focus on hands-on learning and observation, the use of education handouts to explain the efficacy of compost as a soil mediator, its value as a growth stimulator, and its value to the environment and water supply. We will reproduce certain educational materials to be laminated for preservation and backward referral.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Outreach and education included hands on demonstrations/workshops for community members.
We researched various handouts and slides on topics such as: soil health, Native gardening & composting.
We continued to work with Iowa State University to access informational YouTube videos for participants.
We created educational Rack Cards to be used at the workshops, and also put in various places where community events occur to educate more community members.
Describe the activities indicated above.
Project publicity, Advertising workshops
On May 18 we hosted the 4th grade class from the Oneida Turtle School where we had 18 youth in attendance. After the presentation, we split the youth up into groups of 2 and had them draw/color on a sheet of paper what they learned. Throughout the workshop sessions we had 18 agricultural professionals who attended our demonstrations and 4 youth who also attended.
Their artwork can be viewed here: Ms. Tenor's 4th graders May 18 compost
We also had the youth complete pre and post tests.
Results can be viewed here:
At these demonstrations/workshops we provided folders with handouts in them for community members to take home and continue to review and use. These were the informational handouts that were provided: Healthy Soils = Healthy Food, How to Compost-a brief guide to get you started, A Beginner’s Guide to Composting, The World Waste’s 1 Billion Tons of Food a Year, Easy Steps to Prevent Food Waste, Trench Composting With Kitchen Scraps, New USDA to Promote the Reduction of Food Waste, Composting For Kids, How to Make Superior Compost, Things You Didn’t Know You Could Compost, What is Ending Up in Wisconsin Landfills, What Can and Cannot be Composted and Sustainability.
We also realized that in this day and age, many people do not take the time to read. To address that problem, we partnered up with Iowa State University to provide educational videos that the participants could watch. These videos varied from only a couple of minutes long to a couple of hours. The topics discussed were: How to Take a Soil Sample, How to Test Soil Health, How to Complete the DIY (Do It Yourself), Aggregate Stability Test, How to Complete the DIY Bulk Density Test, How to Complete the DIY Water Holding Capacity Test, How to Complete the DIY Earthworm Abundance Test, Native Gardening Workshop I, Native Gardening Workshop II and Composting 101.
These videos can be seen at https://threesistersproject.language.iastate.edu/learn/
We utilized local newspapers to get the information out which included: the Tribal Kalihwisaks, Seymour Advertising News, Freedom Pursuit and Coffee News. The Kalihwisaks goes out to all the Oneida Nation Tribal members. The other newspapers go out to a couple of small communities located close to Oneida and a large rural surrounding area. These newspapers reach approximately 15,000 people.
We also utilized the Oneida Nation ‘Update Oneida’ email blasts which goes out to all the employees of the Nation. In addition, we posted them on the Oneida Farmers Market social media outlets: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. The Oneida Farmers Market social outlets goes out across the State of Wisconsin and even further. Combined these 3 social platforms have 11,200 followers.
Due to the constant pressures from the COVID pandemic, the Oneida Nation would not allow us to hold events in 2021. We are hoping that we will be out of the COVID restrictions in 2022 and then we will have informational booths at the following events: Oneida Farmers Market, Oneida Harvest Fest and Oneida Big Apple Fest. SARE Grant Press ReleasesCommunity Workshop AnnouncementsComposting scheduleWorkshop Sign-in sheetsCompost QuizBeginner CompostingFood Waste handoutsHow to Compost handoutsSoil Health handoutsSoil informational handoutsTrench Composting handouts
Due to back surgery, I had in November 2021- I was not able to host any of the composting workshops in 2022. We did have a community member, Jamie Betters, who is very knowledgeable about composting, step in and she agreed to put on the workshops at no cost. However, although she is knowledgeable about composting, she did not really know the necessities of putting on workshops and I am afraid she did not have sign-in sheets, nor did she take any photos.
Because Jamie did not want to accept the stipend, we have funds left over. We asked for, and were approved, and extension of the grant period until July 31, 2023. We already identified a person who will teach the composting workshops and have funds to promote those workshops to the community.
This grant allowed us to start a community composting program. We started our educational outreach at the Oneida Elementary School. On May 18, we presented using a simple hands-on approach to the 18-youth attending the 4th grade class. We did a visual aid compost presentation to show them what brown stuff is and what green stuff is, what soil is and what dirt is, what table scrapes are and then how to layer the compost and add water. After the presentation, we split the youth up into groups of 2 and had them draw/color on a sheet of paper what they learned.
We hosted composting activities on June 11th, June 16th and July 16th. In order to reach more people, the workshop facilitator decided to have the same information at all three workshops. She also did a pretest before each workshop and a post test at the end of each workshop. On the pretests the groups averaged the score of 61.12% correct answers. On the post tests the groups average the scored 96.14% correct.
Before receiving this grant, the Oneida Nation’s organic farm (Tsyunhehkwa) did carry out sustainable practices. They did many different types of activities around sustainability, but the one that is most prevalent for these purposes would be the community compost mounds. Where this grant concentrated on utilizing a tumbler and bin for composting, the farm had mounds which they would occasionally turn.