For a successful agricultural program it takes twelve farmers plus their families, using approximately 70 acres of farmland. This operation is reasonable for a tribal community to achieve. Hiring tribal members would be positive and not cost the tribe very much money, because most tribes have available land that families can use for farming. The Hardy Roots project is an ideal program that can employ families year-round to farm and use traditional ecological knowledges in ways to provide healthy food. It is important for people to be able to sustain their households with healthy food and clean water, using the same techniques as the Hardy roots community. With these ideas many tribal communities will become less dependent on using money to provide food. Instead those families in the tribal community can grow their own healthy, and fresh food.
“We base our growing practices around organic standards, using only natural sources of fertilizer and organically approved products for pest control. We do not seek certified organic status from the USDA due to the cost of the program; our CSA members have a direct connection to the farm, and many of them visit the farm every week. That is more meaningful certification than a bureaucratic program could ever achieve!” ( Hearty Roots Community Farm Ltd.)
The tribal land that I come from in Red Rock, Oklahoma was once used for farming by American Indian Families. Today the majority of families do not farm, instead go to the groceries stores to buy their food. The diets of our tribal members are not as healthy as they should be, not trying to generalize the community. If the tribe, through an agricultural program; could produce and provide healthy affordable food. With access to this food, I strongly feel the diets of our tribal members would be much healthier. There are government programs that allow tribal families to receive food, if a household cannot provide or afford enough food. The food offered by the government through commodities or school programs is not always fresh, healthy food. The government food is the only alternative for our tribal community in Red Rock if we are not capable of going to buy food from the grocery stores, or local restaurants which both require an income. A program similar to Hardy Roots, in my tribal community would help in a tremendous way this is an option that a tribal council could create and benefit the entire tribe. In a larger city the, ” Hardy Roots program provides food to 500 families on a weekly basis,” (1) I can only imagine how many tribal families we could help.
Another program is the Waltham Fields Community Farm in Massachusetts, they not only grow food to help families, but they teach individuals and groups about the importance of agriculture.
“We seek to reconnect people with the knowledge of how food is produced. Children and adults learn about plants, food production and farming when they come to WFCF to work in the fields and greenhouses and participate in our programming. Guided by experienced staff, field volunteers help sow seeds, transplant seedlings, weed and harvest crops. Educational programs include Children’s Learning Garden Programs, adult workshop offerings, public events, special service learning opportunities, and our Farmer Training program for people who have had some previous experience on farms or in the sustainable agriculture field and are serious about pursuing farming as a career.” (3)
The statistics for Native Americans is not great when dealing with diabetes and its from an unhealthy diet. Instead of allowing this to increase, Tribal communities can change the statistics by growing our own healthy, fresh, affordable food. The tribal members do not have the same connection with the earth that we once had, much is due to our relocation and the new technologies that we have grown accustomed to. The different techniques for gardening and growing will help tribal members make the reconnection with the earth learning to care and improve the environment that we live in. The time and energy it will take to grow food will help tribal members appreciate the environment and save money while becoming healthier. Having a agricultural program is a way to sustain our resources, promoting healthier lifestyles and a cleaner environment. The main reason I would like to see an agricultural program in my tribal community is to reduce the amount of money and expenses on food from grocery stores and restaurants that is unhealthy.
Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow- 2009