On Monday, November 1, 2021, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (“Yakama Nation”), acting through its agricultural enterprise Yakama Nation Farms, purchased Inaba Produce Farms, Inc. from the Inaba family.
“When the Inaba family began farming here on the Yakama Reservation in the early 1900’s, Yakama tribal members supported their efforts, leasing land to them when the laws of the United States did not permit Japanese immigrants to be landowners. Today, the Inaba family honors our historic relationship by selling Inaba Produce Farms to the Yakama Nation to support our sovereignty and food security,” said Virgil Lewis, Sr., the Yakama Tribal Council Vice Chairman and Yakama Nation Farms Board Chair.
Inaba Produce Farms is a third-generation family farm, currently operated by siblings Lon, Wayne, Norm, Diane, and their mother, Shiz. When their grandfather, Shukichi Inaba, immigrated from Japan and arrived in Wapato, WA in 1907, he and his brother, Tomoji, used teams of horses and manual labor to clear 120 acres of leased Tribal land, transforming it from sagebrush to cropland, and helping to construct the irrigation delivery systems. Today, Inaba Produce Farms grows 20+ different produce crops – many farmed organically – on approximately 1,500 acres of land within the Yakama Reservation.
Across the nation, Native American communities are prioritizing ‘food sovereignty’ initiatives to support food security for their members, and to promote healthy eating, economic and employment opportunities, and the preservation of cultural and natural resources. In 2019, the Yakama General Council adopted a Yakama Nation Agriculture Plan, which directed the development of a Yakama Nation agricultural enterprise.
“The acquisition of Inaba Produce Farms will jump-start the Yakama Nation’s implementation of our Agriculture Plan,” said Phil Rigdon, Yakama Nation’s Superintendent of Natural Resources, and Yakama Nation Farms Board Member. “We hope to expand the farm’s current fresh food box program to offer specialty food boxes to organizations and the greater community at a margin that will help to support and grow existing hunger-reduction food box programs.”
Inaba Produce Farms has a strong reputation for high quality produce, sustainable farming practices, and giving back to their local community. “It’s always been important to us to support our neighbors, our workers, and our community” reflected Lon Inaba. “Today, we honor the elders of both the Inaba family and the Yakama Nation, and look forward to building on their knowledge and experience for the benefit of generations to come. We are thankful for the continued support of our loyal customers and suppliers and hope to continue and expand upon those relationships. ” Lon and his brother Wayne will continue to work as the General Manager and Deputy Manager for Yakama Nation Farms.
For additional information or comment, please contact Yakama Nation Executive Secretary Athena Sanchey-Yallup at (509) 865-5121, or Lead Attorney Ethan Jones at (509) 865-7268.