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Nisqually Community Garden – Dupont, WA

When to Expect Food From the Garden

The garden, based on the tribe’s 250-acre cultural center, turns out enough produce, herbs and flowers to support two weekly farm stands for tribal and reservation community members. According to the Master Plan, developed in 2011, the garden’s guiding values of Honor, Tradition, Generosity, Spirit , Abundance, Health, Family & Community support 3 core goals:

1. Growing and sharing a wealth of food & medicine for the Nisqually community

2. Host people developing their expertise and enjoying the garden.

3. Develop community enterprise & sustainability.

The garden managers are realizing these goals in a multitude of ways, including:

* Growing an acre of organic vegetables and establishing an additional 1-3 acres of fruit and nut trees, berries, and processing seasonal harvest for off-season distribution

* Distributing food & plant medicines via a garden stand, Elders & Youth centers, and other special events

* Continuing to develop a Garden Apprenticeship program within a culturally-rooted framework of empowerment and well-being. Work in the garden is grounded in a commitment to community healing of historical trauma.

* Offering year-round workshops, classes, family-fun events and youth field trips

* Composting Tribal food waste

* Plugging into existing and developing tribal enterprises, as capacity allows, and with an emphasis on creating value for the Nisqually community

The Nisqually Garden uses a number of success indicators to make sure it remains a productive community resource. Garden coordinators ensure that the plants and land are well-cared for, with a commitment to the long-term health of the whole picture (not just short-term pay-off). Some long-term benchmarks include that:

* People become conscious of sustaining the health of the land, animals, & plants.

* People start growing, eating, preparing and storing food as part of their family culture.

* Garden becomes part of family traditions. Current children grow up and bring their children to work in the garden. People report personal and family improvements in health and eating habits

* Tribal food waste is returned to the land to grow more food. The garden helps increase overall tribal enterprise and is sustained by the community members who use it.

The Nisqually community garden is based on vision conversations, surveys, and feedback from community members. Please contact Caitlin at (360) 402-0302 or with any questions.

Meswaki Nation, Iowa


The Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initative is a program of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. MFSI works with the Meskwaki people to redefine our agriculture system to be focused around traditional, healthy, and sustainable foods. The program provides workshops, strategic planning, and other educational opportunties and resources to community members to provide support and opportunities as the Meskwaki redefine and reclaim their food system. This work is integrated with school gardens, community gardens, and the Meskwaki Commnunity Farm, a 40-acre organic workers cooperative farm.

The mission of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, aka the Meskwaki Nation is, ‘To provide those conditions and resources, on a continual basis, that allows the Meskwaki to survive as a viable people and culture.’ Strengthening the community’s food system contributes to the Tribe’s commitment to this mission in a meaningful and sustainable way. Rebuilding the Meskwaki food system to include more locally grown and traditional foods empowers the community to solve issues related to health, the environment, and creates new opportunities for growth in a way that celebrates Meskwaki culture and community. Formed in 2012, the Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative is moving into its second year of rebuilding the community’s food system with a lot of momentum. In 2012, they undertook a strategic planning effort–a food sovereignty assessment, raised over 9,000 pounds of produce for the Tribe’s Senior Center in a community garden, started a garden at the Meskwaki Settlement School, began offering classes and workshops related to gardening, foraging, and preserving foods, and held a food film festival and a wildly popular traditional harvest meal. They look forward to increasing the amount of classes, workshops and events offered; growing the community gardens; completing the food sovereignty assessment; and launching the Meskwaki Community Farm, a 40 acre farm located on the Settlement.

For more information, visit


“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically, and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.”

–Food Sovereignty: A Right for All

Oglala Sioux – Pine Ridge, South Dakota

“I WANT TO SATURATE PINE RIDGE WITH HEALTHY VEGETABLES,” says Steve Hernandez, Oglala Sioux Tribe gardening instructor. “The interest in gardening here is huge, and education is key. Through classes in everything from soil preparation to preserving the harvest, we ensure that our people are increasingly able to do this for themselves.”


For Oglalas, eating fresh, organic produce will mean better health. It’s a declaration of sovereignty, according to Hernandez, a tribal member and a former educator for South Dakota State University’s extension service. And it’s starkly practical as well, he says: “Most of our food is trucked in. If there’s bad weather—common on the Plains—it doesn’t get through.”

Hernandez facilitates collaboration among a huge network of groups and individuals who spent the month of May tilling, planting and laying out drip irrigation lines throughout the reservation. These include Pine Ridge schools from pre-K through college; a youth emergency shelter in Pine Ridge village; Lakota Funds, in Kyle, which provides loans and grants; and Kyle’s youth center, Oyate Teca, where kids participate in gardening and other wholesome activities. The center also hosts the Lakota Ranch Beginning Farmer/ Rancher Program, with courses for adults in horticulture and animal husbandry.Oglala4

In an ordinary growing season on the Northern Plains, indeed during an ordinary week, a gardener may face drought, grasshoppers, tornadoes, thunderstorms, hail, ceramic-hard soil and raccoons and other four-legged raiders. Then there’s the heat, which is worsening as the planet heats up. “Between June and August last year, there were only five days below 95 degrees,” recalled Cook. “I have watched the climate change.”

Cook, who is married to tribal member Loretta Afraid of Bear, has been helping Pine Ridge tackle these challenges since 1985. With support from Running Strong for Native American Youth, Plenty International and other funders, Slim Buttes’s 18-plus workers till more than 400 Pine Ridge household plots annually. These provide nearly 2,500 people with fresh fruits and vegetables—a little more than 6 percent of the reservation’s population.

The group hands out some 20,000 seedlings from its greenhouse, along with grocery sacks of seeds for peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, squash and more. Also included are plants, such as the medicinal herb Echinacea, that have prominent blossoms and help attract pollinators.

At Slim Buttes, gardeners amend the soil with needed nutrients, as they might anywhere, says Yellow Hair. But they also pray: “Prayer is a little-understood energy source. Every day, everything we do coalesces the forces of the universe into our soil.”Oglala3

“Gardens provide liveliness, fun and beauty, in addition to fruits and vegetables,” says Schoch, of Old West Gypsy Market: “Gardens are gathering places. They make the community a nice place.”

Condensed from an article by Stephanie Woodard

Read more at http:// indiancountrytodaymedianetwork. com/2013/06/24/dig-it-northern-plains- gardeners-grow-food-health-and- sovereignty-150076

From Food for Thought, Issue 11. Published November 2013.

Sierra Seed Cooperative


Our Mission: Sierra Seed Cooperative is building a rare and diverse seed collection, educating members about the practices of seed-saving, and growing a committed community of caring farmers and seed stewards.

Our mission is to create an accessible and affordable source of regionally adapted seeds, and a local seed bank. This will promote sustainable and ecological seed production in Nevada County and in our bio-region. Regionally adapted seeds are at the foundation of any truly sustainable local agriculture. Our goal is to preserve genetic diversity, empowering our local farmers and gardeners to take back the power of the seed stewardship. We need to work with our plants and seeds to create a new revolution and evolution of local foods, which better fit our lands, our growing methods, and our tastes and imaginations. We aim to save and select for seed varieties that are continuing to adapt to our unique growing conditions in the Sierra Foothills.

We sell only public domain, open-pollinated (OP) seed. None of our seeds are proprietary hybrids (F1), patented (PVP) or genetically modified (GMO) and all of our seed is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.


We are seeding the local revolution. While our focus is on varieties that do well in our bioregion, we hope to make these varieties available to others who grow in similar climates in other places. Locally adapted varieties are the foundation of the durable and resilient local food system that we are helping to create.

Why is Local Seed Important? Seed is a precious common heritage and is an essential component to the future sustainability our food. There is an urgent need to protect seed sovereignty; the corporations who dominate the seed industry are not working for the common people. It is the right of the public to own and develop our seed supply, especially if we are to ensure food security in a way that is congruent to our values of a healthy ecosystem and a just society.

Learn more at:


From Food for Thought, Issue 6. Published May 2013

The Northwest Indian Treatment Center


The Northwest Indian Treatment Center runs a 45-day inpatient treatment program in Elma, WA. The Squaxin Island Tribe created the program to address an unmet need for culturally based drug and alcohol treatment centers for Indian people who grew up on reservations. The program specializes in treating people with chronic relapse patterns related to unresolved grief and trauma, including historic trauma from colonization.

The treatment center weaves culture into the fabric of the program. According to the director, June O’Brien (Nansemond), patients must be able to see themselves in their recovery, and when patients’ traditions are honored in the healing process, re-traumatization is less likely to occur. “Their culture is their medicine,” she says. “Native plants, singing, drumming, a sweat lodge, beading, and support from local Native spiritual communities are part of the program. These act like pillars to hold patients up during their recovery.”

In 2005, the treatment center created the Native Foods Nutrition Project to increase patients’ access to and knowledge of high-quality foods, including fruits, vegetables, and Native foods such as berries, wild greens, seafood, and game. Weekly hands-on classes teach patients how to grow, harvest, process, and prepare these foods. Twice a month, tribal elders, storytellers, and cultural specialists speak as pan of the program. On Sundays, families can visit patents, and the treatment center also offers monthly classes to patients and their family members. This helps families see what patients are learning and teaches activities that families can do together at home.

The partnership also benefits patients who want to enter college or find jobs working with traditional foods and medicines. Upon graduation from the treatment center, patients receive a Traditional Foods and Medicines Certificate with 2.7 continuing education unit credits.

For full text, visit: Sovereignty%20Elise%20Krohn.pdf

From Food for Thought, Issue 7. Published June 2013.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC)


Mazopiya is a community-oriented natural food market that focuses on clean organic foods and carries local products whenever possible, including produce from the SMSCʼs organic garden Mdewakanton Wozupi.


Mazopiya opened in the fall of 2010. In the Dakota language, “Mazopiya” means “a store, a place where things are put away and kept.”

Mazopiya consists of a produce department, grocery department, grass fed meats, dairy, cheeses, pet foods, frozen foods, bulk foods and products, health/wellness/personal care department, soup and salad bar, and much more. The store also offers a Community Room for classes and demonstrations.

Mazopiya emphasizes seasonal eating by presenting customers with locally grown, in season produce. Locally sourced and produced buffalo, honey, maple syrup, wild rice, and other items are available. Customers are encouraged to live clean and green.

Values important to Mazopiya include offering sustainable, local, organic, foods whenever possible, along with offering fair trade foods, those which pay a living wage and promote sustainability in developing countries.


Geothermal System

Geothermal heating system for temperature control captures heat and cooling from the ground. Wells were drilled down 180 feet to utilize the temperature of the earth, which maintains a constant 52 degrees Fahrenheit, to help heat and cool the building. The parking lot was designed with a minimum number of parking spaces to reduce impervious surfaces. Drought tolerant landscaping was used so no irrigation is needed.

The building also runs on alternative energy purchased from the utility company.

If you’re excited to learn more, visit and html

From Food for Thought, Issue 12. Published in December 2013.

Lake Superior Whitefish: Carrying on a Family Tradition

Lake_Superior_WhitefishPat & Chris Peterson, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Avid fishermen for subsistence prior to European settlement, the Lake Superior Chippewa quickly found Gichigami’s (Ojibwe word for Lake Superior) fish to be a valued trade item once explorers penetrated to this inland sea. Tribal fishermen traded fish harvested from birch bark canoes, using gill nets made form twisted and knotted strips of willow bark.

As more and more settler pushed into the Lake Superior region, non-Indian commercial fishing began to take hold with the use of large boats and massive nets. In 1984, the treaty tribes formed the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), an agency of elven Ojibwe tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, to jointly manage the Lake Superior tribal commercial fishery as well as off-reservation inland hunting, fishing and gather activities in the ceded territories.

Tribal commercial fishermen in Lake Superior primarily target whitefish, but also fish for lake trout, siscowet, herring, and salmon. Tribal commercial fishing is regulated through tribal codes as well as through negotiated agreements with the state of Wisconsin for the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior.

The family owned and managed Peterson’s Fish Market is one of several fish businesses run by tribal families. They are an inter-generational family business. Gilmore Peterson, a Red Cliff tribal member and a fourth generation commercial fisherman, learned the trade from his father Wilfred, who in turn learned from his father. Today, Gilmore and his wife Pat run the business while their three sons, Chris, Joel and Matt, ply the waters and the rest of their family members work at the Peterson’s Fish Market in Hancock, Michigan and the adjacent Four Suns cafe.


For the full story, visit

The Ways is an ongoing series of stories from Native communities around the central Great Lakes. The Ways is a production of Wisconsin Media Lab.

From Food for Thought, Issue 9. Published August 2013.