Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe
To help strengthen food systems in Indian Country, the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe will be holding educational workshops for Natives interested in sustainable agriculture and traditional food practices. The tribe recently secured a $50,000 grant from the Native American Agriculture Fund for the programming that will begin in spring and summer 2021.
“Overall, the goal is to help community members acquire the knowledge and skills to get started on agricultural career paths while helping them to better understand, respect, and engage with tribal cultural values, Indigenous science, and traditional food production practices in the region.” Daniel Holsapple, the tribe’s community garden manager, said.
The tribe’s Daluviwi’ Community Garden will be used as a workspace, where students will receive hands-on learning about sustainable food production and improving food security on tribal lands. Topics will cover sustainable gardening practices such as composting, integrated pest management, plant propagation, as well as the production and sale of value-added agricultural products in Native communities.
Community members will be provided with access to individual garden plots where they can grow their own produce, including traditional native foods such as native seed and bulb crops. Participants will then be able to sell their produce at an on-site farm stand as an opportunity to learn about agricultural marketing, distribution, and sales.
“Education is the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s top priority. We are working diligently with our community partners to ensure that there’s more culturally responsive curriculum offered in the region. This program will help bring more awareness to traditional foods and beneficial land practices,” Arla Ramsey, Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Vice Chair, said.
To ensure the instruction is reaching students interested in traditional food systems, the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe is working closely with Humboldt State University’s Food Sovereignty Lab, and will be offering the hands-on courses to those interested in internships and instruction. Tribal Council Member Jason Ramos sits on HSU’s Food Sovereignty Committee.
“Food sovereignty reduces the reliance on outside food sources, and gives tribal communities the opportunity to connect to their cultural traditions and native foods. These programs will help spur stronger food systems in the region, and increase the depth of knowledge about food production and distribution practices,” Jason Ramos, tribal council member for the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe, said.
Furthermore, the tribe has partnered with the Humboldt County 4-H Program and will offer experiential learning opportunities to Native youth in the region as well existing 4-H members.
“We plan to offer projects and programming through Humboldt County 4-H that are reflective of Native culture in this region, teaching kids about topics like cultural burning, native plant food processing, basketry, and language, alongside topics like row crop production, fruit tree care, and aquaponics,” Holsapple, said.
The tribe is choosing to do the first set of instruction virtually, providing videos for instruction, and kits for each student to take home.
When the tribe determines it’s safe, in-person instruction will start. The activities will take place in small group settings. Students, mentors, and staff will wear masks and physically distance during the outdoor activities.
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