Traditional Community Agriculture Restoration

Project Overview

LNC04-248
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $150,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Winona LaDuke
White Earth Land Recovery Project

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes
  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts
  • Vegetables: beans, broccoli, cabbages, onions, peas (culinary), rutabagas
  • Additional Plants: tobacco, herbs, native plants
  • Animals: poultry

Practices

  • Animal Production: preventive practices
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, marketing management, value added
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, public participation, sustainability measures

    Abstract:

    To strengthen Indigenous agriculture and economic restoration initiatives, building community knowledge while restoring ecological landscapes. Our Traditional Agriculture Restoration Program is an extension of our ongoing work to secure environmental, economic and social justice for our people. In keeping with our mission, our project had three priorities: 1) Restoration of traditional agriculture systems, 2) Preservation of traditional varieties of corn, beans and squash, utilizing the “Three Sisters” gardening method, and 3) Enhancing our organic farming initiatives in flint corn, raspberries and strawberries.
    Traditional Anishinaabeg agriculture and food sources are far more diverse than the foods commonly consumed on our reservation. Our agricultural and harvesting methods have suffered deeply from Federal policies, which separated our community from the land and allowed the encroachment of industrialized agriculture forms into our region. This has meant a dramatic loss in both biodiversity and in health.

    From 1981 to 1994, some 84% of all non-hybrid vegetable varieties in the country have been lost, along with many wetlands on the reservation. We have seen a significant decline in local food production and along with the diminishment of our biodiversity, there has been an increase in diet related illnesses. In 2003, the White Earth Land Recovery Project began the groundwork for creating and strengthening a regional network of organizations dedicated to the preservation of traditional heirloom seeds. During 2003, we began our Gitigaaning Project with a regional conference on sustainable farming and seed saving in early May. This conference was free and open to the public, with 40 participants attending. Over the course of the year, we built five greenhouses and twenty grow boxes, distributing them to people in nine reservation communities. After distribution of greenhouses and growboxes, two follow-up training sessions were held. This work was the beginning to achieving the goal of true regional collaborations with other seed saving organizations.

    In 2004, the White Earth Land Recovery Project received $150,000 from the NCR-SARE Program for traditional agriculture education and demonstration work on the White Earth Reservation. Our project is designed to strengthen Indigenous agriculture and economic restoration initiatives, and build community knowledge while restoring ecological landscapes.

    This program is an extension of our Traditional Community Agriculture Restoration Program (program was renamed) to secure environmental, economic and social justice for the Anishinaabeg people on White Earth. Our project has three priorities:

    1. Restoration of traditional agriculture systems;
    2. Preservation of traditional varieties of corn, beans and squash;
    3. Enhancing our organic farming initiatives in flint corn, raspberries and strawberries.

    We have also identified three outcomes for this project:
    1. Establishment of a Three Sisters garden demonstration site;
    2. Educate the community about sustainable agriculture;
    3. Establish a seed bank and a regional network of seed savers.

    Our work will: enhance our existing corn, strawberries, and raspberries as it creates job opportunities for the community. It will allow us to produce stocks of two distinct varieties of traditional corn and provide additional foods for our Mino-Miijim Program. Our success is gauged in achieving these outcomes, increased crop yields, greater diversity of traditional saved seeds and heightened awareness in our community as to the advantages of growing and eating traditional foods. Here is a summary of our work for the grant period.

    Introduction:

    Project Title: Traditional Community Agriculture Restoration
    Project Director: Winona LaDuke
    Funding Amount: $150,000
    Project Dates: July 1, 2004 – September 30, 2007

    Project objectives:

    In our outlined work in this area we proposed to:

    1. Increase our stock of endangered traditional seed – that we be the keeper and supplier of these seeds for our community. This would ensure that community outreach and education efforts would increase as our seed inventory increased.

    2. Development of a reservation wide collaborative aimed at enhancing traditional food options and work with our Elderly Nutrition Program, Tribal Lunch programs and diabetes programs to move towards increased traditional foods consumption and knowledge in the community.

    In our proposal we stated that we would work with various agencies on and off the reservation to increase traditional foods consumption by various programs/agencies. Here is a summary of our work.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.