Tribal Neighbors Celebrate Recent Food Successes (& I Harvest Some Ideas For Us)

 

As September drew to a close there was an abundance of local food events hosted by various tribal groups around the region.  This blog post describes my experience at some of those events, and the ideas we may want to replicate in the Gogebic Range.

The Local Food Producer Summit (September 25 and 26) was a 2-day event hosted by the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa Community College at their Sustainable Agriculture Research Station Farm.  The 220 acre farm contains agriculture research plots, a community garden, livestock, and a farmers market.  The summit was a free event that covered topics from whole farm planning and farm food safety to funding opportunities and value-added products.  I came away with a stack of food safety resources (like directions on how to build a field handwashing station for under $20), information about food product marketing (like the Intertribal Agriculture Council’s trademark program), and ideas from memories like the one below.

As part of the summit, the LCO Community College’s Extension Department proudly shared the successes they’ve had in their Beginner Producer Program, a sustainable agriculture gardening programming in which 15 families meet over the course of a year to learn about many aspects of gardening, including seed saving and rain barrels.  This year’s participating families provided an exhibition pow wow on Friday night, and also invited the summit attendees to celebrate in their graduation the following Saturday.  I would like to see more Gogebic Range families gathering together in the pursuit of growing and celebrating local food and culture!

The Local Food Producer Summit was followed by 2 events in Bad River.  The 2nd annual Minomiijim (Good Eats) Festival was held on Sunday (September 27), and served as an opportunity to share a meal together while discussing ways to keep Bad River food sovereignty moving food.  According to the Indigenous Food Systems Network, “Indigenous food sovereignty is a specific policy approach to addressing the underlying issues impacting Indigenous peoples and our ability to respond to our own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods,” and is similar to Henry Kissinger’s quote “who controls the food supply controls the people.”  If we want to our communities to be healthy and resilient, surely that includes our leadership in where our food comes from, how it is grown, and how it gets on the tables of our families and neighbors.

Lastly, on Monday (September 28) there was another event that, although I did not personally attend, I heard about during the Local Food Producer Summit and the Minomiijim Festival.  I learned about a community conversation around the Tribal Syrup Cooperative, a intertribal effort to “support and promote the vitality of Indigenous maple sugar traditions and commerce.”  What most impressed me about this cooperative was the expansion of community food beyond the garden.  What are resources in our landscape that we can collectively harvest and enjoy together?  For instance, what about a neighborhood apple gleaning day where apples are collected and processed as a community (and, of course, eaten)!?

What a weekend!  I am very grateful to our tribal neighbors, Lac Courte Oreilles and Bad River, for generously extending an invitation for all those interested to participate in their celebrations of food and community.

What ideas do you have for celebrating food and community in the Gogebic Range?  What are your favorite community food events (Italian Days, SISU, farmers market dinners, etc.)?  What are you excited to cook up next, and who will you invite to the table?

~Amy Nosal

AmeriCorps VISTA

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