- Agronomic: potatoes
- Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes
- Additional Plants: herbs
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, farm-to-institution, market study
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, employment opportunities, social capital
Dream of Wild Health–a program of Peta Wakan Tipi—was established in 1998 as a way to “promote health in the Native community by expanding knowledge of and access to healthy indigenous foods and medicines.” We grow out rare indigenous seeds that have been gifted to the farm, increasing the seed stock for future generations. We offer age-appropriate and culturally focused summer garden programs to Native youth, ages 8-18, who learn about healthy lifestyles and sustainable farming. The older kids develop leadership and basic job skills through paid work apprenticeships for the farm.
In 2008 we received funding for a youth-led project, Native Youth Teach Healthy Diets (Learning to Love Vegetables!) to encourage participation in our Farmers Markets. The project was a success, with youth developing a public presentation and cookbook that encouraged families to cook healthy foods. Since that time, our continued outreach working with Native families has defined deeper challenges to choosing healthy foods at our Farmers Market. Native families suffer disproportionately from poverty and unemployment, making access a significant issue for both transportation and income.
In 2010, we began to envision a Mobile Farmers Market that would deliver fresh produce directly to four organizations serving American Indian families, and offer both EBT and WIC access. We secured a small award from the Wallace Center (HUFED) to purchase a truck and complete a Food Needs Assessment in the St. Paul American Indian community.
We received $6,000 in funds from SARE to:
1) Help pay for stipends to hire a college-age intern, preferably a graduate of our programs, as well as one of our Youth Leaders, to run the Mobile Market: make deliveries, provide information about the produce, and keep detailed records. By hiring Native teens, we encourage them to act as advocates for healthy choices within their communities, while providing work experience, job skills, and a paycheck.
2) Assist in publicizing the program to families with a press release, brochure about the program, weekly flyers, website updates, and distribution of our healthy cookbook.
3) Support the costs of purchasing equipment for EBT access.
Dream of Wild Health (DWH) is a 10-acre farm in Hugo, MN, and a program of Peta Wakan Tipi in St. Paul, MN. Since 1998, DWH has promoted health in the Native community by expanding knowledge of and access to healthy indigenous foods and medicines. With the gift of rare indigenous seeds from a Potawatomi elder and Keeper of the Seeds, Cora Baker, we raise traditional foods from seeds that may be hundreds of years old. By expanding and saving our seed stock, we are preserving an indigenous way of life, our cultural history, and the means of restoring health to our community. In 2010, we raised four varieties of corn, squash and beans in a traditional Three Sisters planting.
We also grow an organic Market Garden to feed the youth in our summer programs, support weekly Farmers Markets in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and provide weekly donations to elders programs and food shelves. We are a member of the Midtown Market in Minneapolis as of this past year. In 2010, we ran two stand-alone markets, the Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) Native Market at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, and a market on Payne Avenue and Sims in St. Paul. We also grew 38 market vegetables, including carrots, lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, radishes, beets, onions, green beans, tomatoes and eggplant. With two full-time seasonal farmers, we rely on the labor of the youth enrolled in our summer programs, Cora’s Kids (8-12 years) and Garden Warriors (13-18). Both programs teach the basics of organic, sustainable farming, recycling, water conservation, as well as how to cook simple, nutritious meals. Garden Warriors also take responsibility for running the Farmers’ Markets, earning a much-needed stipend for their work.
The specific goal for this project was to improve access to healthy foods for the American Indian community in St. Paul. In 2010, we kept detailed records of participation at our Payne Avenue market, establishing a benchmark against which we can measure improvement. Our records include type and amount of vegetables sold and number of people served through each market as a portion of the evaluation process. For this project, we also tracked how much impact EBT and WIC access would have on our sales.
We have results of a Food Needs Questionnaire that was distributed during the months prior as well as during the market season. This insight into the practical needs of our customers helped us focus in 2012 on growing and delivering the vegetables in greatest demand.
We also believe in the importance of qualitative feedback, relying on the stories that we hear from people who buy our vegetables, or try a new dish in our cookbook, or taste kale for the first time. We documented the season with photographs that were posted on our website. We also collected feedback from our youth participants, from our host organizations for each event, and from members of our community.