Pomo Tribal Supported Agriculture Program

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2011: $49,963.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Rachel Whetstone
Hopland Band of Pomo Indians
Terri McCartney


  • Fruits: melons, apples, citrus, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts
  • Vegetables: beans, cucurbits, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: parasite control, animal protection and health, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, range improvement, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: catch crops, crop rotation, cover crops, double cropping, foliar feeding, intercropping, irrigation, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
  • Energy: solar energy
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, marketing management, farm-to-institution, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, biodiversity, riverbank protection, wetlands
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, compost extracts, cultural control, integrated pest management, row covers (for pests), trap crops
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, composting, nutrient mineralization, soil microbiology, soil chemistry, organic matter, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, social networks, sustainability measures


    The Pomo Tribal Supported Agriculture Program coordinated twenty-four hands-on workshops with nine different Bands of Pomo at six Reservations and the Mendocino Jail. One hundred seventy-eight Tribal members (including twenty-eight youth) participated in workshops. Twelve inmates participated at the Mendocino County Jail, attending workshops and growing fruit trees to distribute to Tribes. Outcomes included nine Tribal Farmer’s Markets near Tribal pre-schools with a variety of products from Tribal members, 10 acres of vineyards, 40 fruit trees, an acre of row crops brought into organic production, and the creation of Tribal Agriculture web-site with links to on- and off-site resources.


    The Pomo people are, in fact, many linguistically distinct bands of Native Americans, living in a rural area in Northern California. The Pomo face continuing mental, physical and spiritual health challenges directly related to the loss of a traditional food system that provided a healthy diet, social interaction, exercise and commodities to trade. The Pomo have farmed the lands in a sustainable manner for thousands of years in this area; growing spring greens, a variety of berries, Indian potatoes, a diverse selection of seed crops for Pinole and acorns for flour. Currently, many of the Pomo Tribes have small farms and agriculture projects on their lands that could be expanded to provide food security and income for their Tribe. The Hopland Band of Pomo has over 20 acres of 100-year old dry-farmed organic grapes, with the vision of integrating food crops into the vineyards. Potter Valley Pomo grow fields of pumpkins, corn, tomatoes and a variety of squash, providing hundreds of pounds of produce for their people. Coyote Valley Pomo have a farm with a large commercial greenhouse for growing winter tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. Pinoleville Band of Pomo has a more eclectic blend of Traditional and mainstream vegetables, with fields of fruit trees intermixed with Native Traditional Foods Gardens and a round-house style greenhouse/education center.

    Even though there are these farming projects, the Pomo suffer from high obesity rates (even among the children), isolation, lack of exercise and unemployment. Distribution of the produce has been challenging, and many Tribe members (especially Elders) rely on commodity foods, with little or no fresh fruits, vegetables or traditional foods. Isolation and high unemployment lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse and high rates of incarceration.

    By providing workshops, educational opportunities, a Farmers Market for distribution of fresh food and hands-on support with a blending of UC Farming and Pomo Traditional Farming methods, the Pomo Tribal Supported Agriculture Program (PTSAP) can address many of these issues. A Lead-Farmer liaison was to be identified for each Tribe to assist in coordinating the workshops, distributing information and communicating with the Technical Provider. On-site follow-up support was provided by weekly contact with farmers to assist with questions and concerns. The year following the workshop series (year 2 of the grant) was to consist of meeting with the farmers on their farms, evaluating the progress of the farmers and providing follow-up technical support. The UC Santa Cruz Curriculum was also to be made available to incarcerated Native Americans at the Mendocino County Jail through the Inmate Welfare Services Certified Organic Farm Program at the Jail coordinated by Technical Provider Terri McCartney.

    Project objectives:

    *Coordinate 24 workshops with four bands of Pomo (Hopland, Pinoleville, Coyote Valley and Potter Valley Pomo) and inmates working at the Mendocino County Jail Organic Farm Program.

    *Develop a Pomo Supported Agriculture website with the capacity to link the participating farmers with farming information, sources of supplies, farmers market dates, nutritional information and recipes of crops, as well as highlighting farmers and their success stories.

    *Coordinate seasonal farm stands with EBT (Food Stamp) ability, fruit and vegetable tasting and recipes at three Pomo Pre-Schools.

    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.