Cherokee Central Schools students participate in a hands-on lesson in the school’s garden, which is planted with traditional varieties of vegetables grown for generations by the Cherokee people.
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, guest blog writer Katie Rainwater, also a FoodCorps Service Member, shares her remarkable experience at Cherokee Central Schools, a 2014 USDA Farm to School Grantee.
Guest blog by Katie Rainwater, FoodCorps
Imagine this: A bright, sunny fall day in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Fresh, organic greens, lovingly raised in Cherokee Central Schools’ garden, and harvested that same day. Now add 22 elementary students proudly waving signs and banners they decorated the day before, boasting the beauty of their garden bounty, and advertising their Fall Greens Sale. If you ever bought into the idea that “kids don’t like vegetables,” our elementary schoolers could have changed your mind that day. Stationed in front of the school during after-school pick-up time, every car and person within reach received a glowing description of the wondrous greens the students helped grow, the most popular being a local native variety called Creasy Greens. Bedecked in fruit and vegetable costumes, these kids were convincing adults that they should eat their veggies! As a genuine testament to their enthusiasm and love for their harvest, they sold almost all of the 321 pounds of greens harvested that day. Read more »
A crew from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians takes care of crops inside a high tunnel constructed with Community Food Projects (CFP) funds. CFP grants help local communities take control over their local food supply. (Photo courtesy of John Hendrix)
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
For thousands of years Native Americans thrived in self-sustaining communities. Now, many have to make do with whatever food and basic goods can be hauled in by truck.
“The Oglala Lakota people thrived for centuries as a self-sustaining community. They utilized the bounty of their local environment to provide food and shelter,” said Nick Hernandez, Community Food Project director at South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. “In modern times, 95 percent of food and basic goods are hauled onto the Oglala Lakota Nation, perpetuating a phenomenon known as a ‘food desert’.” Read more »
Stephen Handler leading teachers through a field exercise at the G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture Teacher Institute. (Photo credit: Cathy Techtmann, University of Wisconsin-Extension)
USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.
When you are faced with a big problem, it helps to have all your friends working together.
There’s a great example of this philosophy playing out in the Northwoods of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan between the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, an organization that supports the hunting, gathering, and fishing treaty rights of 11 member Ojibwe tribes and the U.S. Forest Service. Representatives of the Commission and Forest Service meet regularly to collaborate on a wide range of issues, including wildlife management, law enforcement, and youth education. Read more »
Morgan Boggs, NRCS Earth Team volunteer in Browning, Montana. Photo credit: NRCS Montana.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA) have partnered in a pilot project to provide new opportunities for Native American high school students across the west.
Morgan Boggs, a high school senior in Browning, Montana, was one of three Montana high school seniors selected by INCA. Through this pilot program, students sign up as NRCS Earth Team volunteers to work side-by-side with NRCS professionals. This on-the-job training increases the students’ qualifications for the USDA Pathways Internship Program, which employs college students working toward a degree in natural resources. Read more »
Dakota Williams said raising cattle is her career. At age 18, she already has plenty of experience and within the next 10 years she hopes to own her own farm. Photo by Kim Whitten Photography.
At age 18, Dakota Williams knows exactly what she wants to do with her life — own a farm and raise cattle.
“[Farming] is all I’ve ever known. I’m a third generation farmer, working the same land as my grandparents and I don’t want to see it end,” said Dakota. A member of the Cherokee tribe, Dakota said her ancestors lived off the land and she wants to honor them in her work. “Not many people can say they live in an area where their ancestors came from and they are still trying to make that land better.”
Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has worked to improve housing, better educational opportunities, improve infrastructure and create employment and business opportunities for Native American families, including veterans and youth. Read more »
Brian Parkinson grows cereal rye and other varieties of cover crops near Milan, Ill. Parkinson works with NRCS District Conservationist Joe Gates to make conservation improvements to his land. Photo courtesy of NRCS.
The mighty Mississippi – it’s a river with a history of romance and enchantment. Native Americans depended on the Mississippi River for food and water, and world explorers came in search of its riches.
Over time, farmsteads dotted the land, and small towns grew to large cities. Today, we see the fruits of our labor as industry, commerce and agriculture continue to thrive in the basin. But those successes come with environmental challenges. Many of the basin’s waterways suffer from poor water quality. Read more »