- Fruits: general small fruits
- Animals: bees
- Farm Business Management: value added
- Sustainable Communities: public participation, employment opportunities, social networks, community development
The Passamaquoddy Tribe owns a wild blueberry farm (NEBCO) that is located over 50 miles away from the two Passamaquoddy Reservations in Washington County Maine. There is little community involvement or knowledge about the farm which has been run by the Tribe for the past 24 years. NEBCO is currently in the process of doing market research to develop value-added products and a Native label for the purpose of generating more income for the Tribe. The Passamaquoddy Tribe would like to inspire young people to work in this farm business and we would like to involve them in the initial market research. These kids will be running this farm some day. This project supports an initiative started by the schools to learn about the local natural resources and business entities of the Tribe. The 7th and 8th grades will be targeted in this proposal. This grant would allow us to bus students from both Tribal communities to the farm three times during the growing season. After seeing the harvest and how the berries are processed, the students will do in-school research on blueberries and cranberries and produce 3 artworks inspired by their visit to the farm. A competition will be announced for the best berry value-added product and the best package. These products and packages will be displayed at a school open house held just before the winter holidays. Judging will take place at this event. A follow-up gathering will be held after the holidays where the winners will be honored and an honorarium payment will be given for each category of product design. These community gatherings will showcase the winners and set the stage for the NEBCO manager, board members and field workers to answer questions and further educate the community about the NEBCO farm. A booklet will be created for this event which highlights the history of the farm, the activities that go into farming wild berries, capital improvements, and a section on the future of the farm which would include student work.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project would target the 7th and 8th graders on both reservations. The grant would support four bus trips from both communities to NEBCO to see the blueberry and cranberry farm operations and then at harvest time to see the processing of the fruit. At school, the students will research berry nutrition and medicine, Passamaquoddy connections/legends related to the fruit, recipes for berry products and advertising concepts. With fruit provided by NEBCO, the berry product will be developed and packaged, and each student will design a label and a gift bag using both English and the Passamaquoddy language. Each student will display their products and advertising in an open house at each of the schools.
At this open house the products and packaging would be judged for the three best berry products and the three best packages. Winners would be honored at a later NEBCO community meeting on each reservation. At this award meeting, a booklet describing the farm history, farm operations and future company plans would be available to the public. The student’s work will be incorporated into this pamphlet. Snacks would be provided and farm management and personnel will be available to answer questions.
Involving the youth in outreach for the Tribal wild blueberry and cranberry farm is the best way to reach the adults in our communities. Events at the school are well attended and reach the larger family unit, especially grandparents and other caregivers. Pride in our children’s creativity and original ideas spreads quickly through the community.
Each student who participates in this project will be given a pre-test and a post-test to test their knowledge about blueberries, cranberries and the NEBCO farm. In addition, NEBCO will distribute a participant questionnaire, which will target the students and their parents. This questionnaire will assess the amount of increase in awareness of the NEBCO farm and the opportunities that exist there.