First Nations Awards Grants for Native American Farm to School Initiatives in New Mexico
LONGMONT, Colorado (July 23, 2020) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is pleased to announce the four selected community partners that will implement an initiative to honor Native knowledge and build environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Funded with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Continuing the Tradition of Indigenous Farming and Environmental Stewardship: A Native Farm to School Initiative is designed to build capacity of Native American farm to school programs in New Mexico that provide quality experiential or classroom-based environmental and agricultural education to Native American students and engage communities in their programs.
Native Americans have managed and cultivated land utilizing traditional knowledge for thousands of years. Native culture’s holistic approach to food, which involves planting, growing, blessing, harvesting, celebrating and honoring, is tied to its commitment to caring for children, community and the natural world. Based on this, the Native Farm to School Initiative focuses on both agricultural education and Native cultural values of environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Under the project, First Nations will provide technical assistance and support to the following four model Native American entities in New Mexico to expand their farm to school environmental and agricultural education activities.
Ancestral Lands – Pueblo of Acoma
When asked where corn comes from, local children of Pueblo of Acoma are likely to respond “from a can.” To provide a richer and more accurate understanding, Ancestral Lands will create an all-inclusive and holistic agriculture class in partnership with the local Haak’u Community Academy. The class will include modules on composting, creating raised bed gardens with drip irrigation, seed saving and preparing food. Students will learn ways in which soil, water, air and land have been used traditionally and how these elements have been impacted by climate change and natural resource extraction.
Native American Community Academy – Albuquerque
Urban students of the Native American Community Academy land-based team currently incorporate focus areas such as environmental sustainability, native plants, vegetative management, land stewardship, and soil health at a minimal level. This project will build on this approach by investing in environmental education for Native American elementary through high school students in the urban context. Students will learn land-based pedagogy practices involving awareness, exposure and application. The project overall will increase the ways in which people can participate in finding resolutions to current and future environmental challenges.
The Pueblo of Zia – Zia Pueblo
This project will increase awareness of the importance of healthy soils and farm to school approaches. Staff will collaborate with New Mexico State University, Sandoval County Master Gardeners, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide hands-on training on soil sampling, soil analysis and soil amendments to farmers and elementary to high school students, teaching them how healthy soil can increase growth potential, resulting in extra produce that can be marketed to schools and improve access to fresh produce.
Sanostee Day School – Sanostee
Sanostee Day School will provide students with hands-on problem-solving experiences. Through the school’s garden project, students will get opportunities to conduct scientific experiments and see how they, as individuals, can impact the environment in positive ways. The first part of the program will provide professional development for staff on how to integrate the garden and environmental project into the curriculum.
For more information on how First Nations is working to support tribes and Native communities developing nourishing native foods and health, visit https://www.firstnations.org/our-programs/nourishing-native-foods-health/.
About First Nations Development Institute
For 40 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.