Current Projects

Native Farm to School

Native Farm to School is a food sovereignty project under First Nations’ Nourishing Native Foods & Health program. We provide educational opportunities and support to program coordinators, school staff, teachers, community and youth organizers, and knowledge keepers of all ages to ensure young tribal leaders can experience traditional foodways inside culturally inclusive school food systems.

Scroll down for multiple publications, webinars, a program directory and resources for starting and bolstering Native Farm to School programs.

Native Farm to School Guide: Connecting Traditional Foods, Stories, Language, and Community

First Nations recognizes that the deep roots of Native communities in tending and harvesting food have grown into contemporary farming, ranching and other forms of agriculture. The Native Farm to School Guide: Connecting Traditional Foods, Stories, Language, and Community focuses on what food sovereignty can look like inside community education and school systems. The guide distinguishes Native Farm to School from Farm to School by providing diverse examples from tribal communities across Indian Country and shares key elements that pertain to Native communities. It provides program planning activities and assessment tools to help improve, expand and initiate Native-centered programming, along with resource lists to support this work.

Native Farm to School Resource Guide

Native Farm to School programs have become an important way to:

  • Introduce traditional foods and practices into curriculum
  • Promote Native health, self-reliance and sustainability
  • Help increase knowledge of traditional foods, languages and ceremonies
  • And boost tribal economies, as many locally-produced food items can be purchased and utilized in school lunch programs.

The Native Farm to School Resource Guide is a comprehensive manual for planning and implementing Farm to School programs in Native American communities that was developed by identifying existing Native and non-Native Farm to School programs and analyzing best practices. The guide covers lessons learned, challenges and case studies of programs that achieved high-level impact and long-term sustainability.

Booklets

Native Farm to School Booklets

The Native Farm to School two-page booklets are designed by Native communities and partners for Native Farm to School enthusiasts. They are filled with insights and activities for classroom teachers, school staff and program planners. The booklets were made possible with support from USDA Food and Nutrition Service and EPA Environmental Education. Each one was designed by Michelle Lowden (Acoma). 

Healthy Soils, Healthy Native Communities

Why is soil health important? Soil is one of the utmost important living entities that has essential components for supporting the plant life cycle, and it is vital to the ecosystem. The Pueblo of Zia has identified the need to produce a healthy harvest for schools and communities, and that begins with the soil.

Contributor: Yvonne Benton, Agriculture Manager, Pueblo of Zia

Download the Booklet

The Joy of Soil Health


Healthy soil itself is full of life! The Joy of Soil Health is based on the five soil health principles: Keeping the soil covered, Minimizing soil disturbance on cropland and in external inputs, Maximizing biodiversity, Maintaining living roots, and Integrating animals. These principles showcase the multiple and important benefits of healthy soils and reconnect students to mother earth.

Contributor: Isabelle Jenniches, Co-founder, New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group

Download the Booklet

Seed Saving & Crop Profiles

Indigenous peoples have saved seeds as a way of preserving traditional and ancestral foodways. Our relationship with seeds is a bond that culturally ties us to our responsibilities as stewards. Seeds are a gift from Mother Earth and the seeds carry a story. Seed Saving & Crop Profiles distinguishes the varieties of the Three Sisters, their planting seasons, when to harvest, and seed saving methods.

Contributor: Conservation Legacy – Ancestral Lands Program Coordinator, Aaron Lowden (Pueblo of Acoma).

Download the Booklet

Environmental Education Resources

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Education Resources is dynamic and interactive, and focuses on engaging students with a combination of activity books, lesson plans, online games, videos, and much more. The booklet is also great for schools with a hybrid learning model in which students are tuning in via distance learning, attending classes in-person, and navigating a combination of both.

Contributor: US Environmental Protection Agency

Download the Booklet

Native Wellness Wheel

The Native American Community Academy uses a Wellness Wheel as a tool for students, staff, and the community to articulate their perceptions, goals, and assessments surrounding health. People can use the Wellness Wheel to visually record their Intellectual, Physical, Community, and Social/Emotional health. This is a holistic approach that is centered on respect for Indigenous knowledge.

Contributor: Native American Community Academy

Download the Booklet

Garden Lessons

The Garden Lessons booklet features hands-on, experiential activities that guide students’ interest in reconnecting with the environment by learning the importance of soil, seeding to growing, harvesting, cooking, and eating healthy foods. The lessons set the tone for engaging students to explore their senses, social and emotional learning, and creativity. This presents an example of building producer capacity to better prepare and engage young Native producers.

Contributor: Mark Sorensen, CEO and Board President of STAR School (Navajo Nation)

Download the Booklet

How to Plant a Three Sisters Garden

The Passamaquoddy people have traditionally planted the Three Sisters, feeding communities for generations. This booklet covers Passamaquoddy planting methods, the importance of pollination, and processes for maintaining and caring for the plants, harvesting, and storage. The booklet highlights the connection of community, reclaiming Indigenous food systems, and honoring traditional knowledge.

Contributor: Brian Giles, Special Education Teacher,  Indian Township School (Passamaquoddy), Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Science

Download the Booklet

Community Needs Assessment Tool

The Community Needs Assessment Tool analyzes and identifies the strengths and resources available to communities.  The tool empowers youth, parents, and families in meaningful, hands-on learning activities that strengthen Native Farm to School programming.

Contributor: August Ahlm, Instructor – Newcomb School Agriculture Program (Navajo Nation)

Download the Booklet

Native Farm to School Evaluations

Design and evaluation framework must fit the community’s needs and Native Farm to School model with programming that is led by the community. The School Evaluations booklet incorporates approach, process, and outcomes that include components, methods, stakeholders, and benefits.

Contributor: John Hendrix, Director of Economic Development, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

Download the Booklet

Watering Methods of the Southwest

Agriculture is vital to the Pueblo people located in what is known today as New Mexico. The Pueblo people developed a number of farming techniques that conserve water such as dry farming, waffle gardens, and water irrigation systems.

Contributor: George Toya, Farm Manager – Farm to Community, Pueblo of Nambe

Download the Booklet

Kitchen and Meal Planning

For Native communities, it is important to ensure students’ diets and traditions are incorporated in kitchen and meal planning. Tips in this booklet include: Consider incorporating a few traditional foods in a student or staff taste test; Work to build stronger relationships with food service staff, Native producers, and the wider community; and Envision what your school’s cafeteria can offer.

Contributor: Leiloni Begay (Navajo), First Nations Development Institute

Download the Booklet

Presentations and Webinars

Native Farm to School Webinar Series

Cultivating Healthy Soils for Native Communities

December 8, 2020

The Pueblo of Zia has a long tradition of agriculture, and the practice is still very much part of the culture. This webinar features “Showcasing New Mexico Environmental Education Project: Zia Pueblo,” a presentation by Pueblo of Zia, Department of Agriculture, which focuses on soil sampling, soil analysis, and soil amendments that incorporate the larger community of farmers and elementary to high school students, and teaches how healthy soils can increase growth potential. From there, the webinar takes a deeper dive with New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group’s presentation “Joy of Soil Health,” which highlights water benefits, nutrition, and environmental health.

View Webinar Recording
View Webinar Presentation

Nurturing Indigenous Youth and Families in and Beyond the Classroom

December 10, 2020

Elementary through high school students are learning from awareness and exposure to application, through land-based pedagogy practices and by working with and learning about the land. The webinar features the Native American Community Academy’s presentation “Showcasing New Mexico Environmental Education Project: Native American Community Academy,” which aims to help both teachers and students explore, implement, and practice environmental awareness, challenges, and resolutions. The webinar also features Newcomb Schools’ presentation “Engaging Youth and Families in Native Farm to School Programs,” which highlights youth engagement strategies, innovative ways to engage families in Farm to School activities, and parent and family engagement in Farm to School programs.

View Webinar Recording
View Webinar Presentation

Harvesting and Collaborating with Native Community Partners

December 15, 2020

In the Pueblo of Acoma, the Acoma Ancestral Lands Farm Corps is connecting traditional culture by continuing ancient agricultural traditions and providing healthy food for the community. The webinar features Acoma Ancestral Lands Farm Corps’ presentation “Showcasing New Mexico Environmental Education Project: Acoma Ancestral Lands Farm Corps,” which focuses on restoring the knowledge of Haak’ume’ food systems that incorporate experiential learning opportunities in the Haak’u Community Academy. Webinar presenters then move to the East Coast with Native community partners from Indian Township at Peter Dana Point, Maine, on the ancestral lands of the Passamaquoddy people. The Indian Township’s presentation, “Building Partnerships in Native Farm to School Programs,” highlights the connections of community-based initiatives toward building and reclaiming Indigenous food systems in Native Farm to School programs through partnership building.

View Webinar Recording
View Webinar Presentation

Mastering Strategies to Accelerate Native Farm to School Efforts: Evaluations and Grants

January 14, 2021

In this webinar, participants learn about Farm to School evaluation requirements and expectations for grant recipients, as well as how to communicate success stories and accelerate Native Farm to School efforts from Andrea Alma, USDA Farm to School Regional Lead for the Mountains Plain Region. John Hendrix, Director of Economic Development for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, presents “Evaluating Farm to School Programs: Assessment Tools and Strategies.” This presentation shares how Choctaw Fresh Produce focuses on evaluation effectiveness, assessment tools, and strategies for how to address social impact and how students, teachers, and stakeholders can all collect data as a best practice.

View Webinar Recording
View Webinar Presentation

Exploring Strategies and Best Practices: Lessons from the Southwest

January 20, 2021

Nambe Pueblo has a long history of farming in the Southwest that ties in with their traditional Pueblo lifestyle. Traditional farming strengthens and bonds the community, and Native farmers integrate cultural values into growing foods. The webinar features a presentation by Mark Sorensen, “Native Farm to School Marketing and Communication,” which provides practices and strategies implemented by the STAR (Service to All Relations) School on how to build a strong program and engage Native producers in Farm to School efforts. George Toya (Jemez Pueblo) is the Manager at Nambe Pueblo Community Farm. He presents “Integrating Native Producers into Your Farm to School Program,” a presentation about building producer capacity so schools and organizations are better prepared for Farm to School opportunities, as well as strategies on how to overcome or address potential issues and challenges in engaging Native producers.

View Webinar Recording
View Webinar Presentation

Finding Educational and Funding Opportunities for Farm to School Programs

January 28, 2021

In this webinar, the First Nations’ Farm to School team presents an “Overview of Native Farm to School Programs,” which serves to build and strengthen a Native network to collectively improve Farm to School opportunities for Native students.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Education Program, which works to increase awareness and knowledge about environmental issues so that the public can make informed decisions and take responsible action. The webinar concludes with the presentation “EPA Environmental Education Program and Current Opportunities” which provides an overview of the EPA Environmental Education Program, funding opportunities, program updates, and resources, as well as how it relates to Farm to School programming.

View Webinar Recording
View Webinar Presentation

Indigenous Seed Saving Virtual Workshop

February 23, 2021

Seeds are the essence of life and how life is renewed. Since our beginnings, our Indigenous nations and communities have guided and cultivated hundreds of varieties of plant relatives and seeds adapted to our climates and bioregions. Today much of those ancient arid adapted cultivars have dwindled or have been lost entirely. Seed saving safeguards the life-affirming and healthy future of our communities and ensures our continued capacity for self-sustenance. Through this workshop, you will learn from Ancestral Lands Program Coordinator, Aaron Lowden (Pueblo of Acoma) about the basics of growing specifically for seed cultivation, seed saving, and short- and long-term caretaking of seed through an ethical southwest Indigenous food system framework.

View Webinar Recording

Program Directory

Native Farm to School Program Directory

This growing directory includes Native Farm to School programs and supporting organizations regionally across Indian Country. Many of the groups listed have had success implementing the Farm to School grant or food sovereignty project that aims to support the Native youth. If your program or organization would like to be included in the directory please complete the Native Farm to School Directory Form.

Eastern

Akwesasne Freedom School,  Mohawk – NY
Cherokee Central Schools, Cherokee – NC
Indian Township School,  Passamaquoddy – ME

Southern

Choctaw Tribal Schools, Choctaw – MS

Great Lakes

Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa – MN
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School, Ojibwe – WI
Mashkiiziibii. The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ojibwe – WI
Menominee Tribal School, Menominee – WI
Nawayee Center School, Ojibwe, Dakota – MN
Oneida Nation School System, Oneida – WI
Oshki Ogimaag Charter School, Gichi-Onigamng Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa – MN
Pine Point Farm to School Program, Ojibwe – MN
White Earth Land Recovery Project, Ojibwe – MN

Plains / Mountains

Circle of Nations School, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate – ND
Hardin School District, Crow – MT
Intertribal Agriculture Council – MT
InterTribal Buffalo Council – SD
Isna Wica Owayawa – Loneman Day School, Oglala – SD
Lame Deer Public Schools, Northern Cheyenne – MT
Montezuma School to Farm, serves Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, and Pueblo Tribes – CO
Thunder Valley CDC, Oglala Lakota – SD
Tribal Nations Research Group, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians – ND
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe – Nuchiu Co-op Project, Ute Mountain Ute – CO

Southwest

Ancestral Lands, Acoma Pueblo – NM
Bernalillo Public Schools, Pueblo – NM
Diné College, Diné – AZ
Native American Community Academy – NM
Natwani Coalition – Hopi Natwani for Youth Project, Hopi – AZ
Ndee Bikiyaa / The People’s Farm, White Mountain Apache Tribe – AZ
Newcomb High School, Navajo – NM
North Leupp Family Farms, Diné – AZ
Ramah Navajo School Board Pine Hill School, Navajo – NM
Red Willow Center, Taos Pueblo – NM
Sanostee Day School, Navajo – NM
The Pueblo of Zia, Zia Pueblo – NM
The STAR School, Navajo- AZ
Tohono O’odham Community Action, Tohono O’odham – AZ
Zuni Public Schools, Zuni Pueblo – NM
Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, Zuni Pueblo – NM

Pacific

Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bishop Paiute – CA
Hydaburg City School, Haida – AK
Mala`ai Kula: Kaua`i, Native Hawaiian – HI
Malama Honua Charter School, Native Hawaiian – HI
Northwest Indian College – Early Education Initiatives, Lummi – WA
Pikyav Field Institute, Karuk – CA
Sitka School District, Sitka – AK
Sust ʻāina ble Molokai, Native Hawaiian – HI
Warm Spring Academy, Warm Springs, Wasco, Paiute – OR

Resources

Helpful Resources for Native Farm to School

Albuquerque Public Schools

Albuquerque Public School District has over 84 school gardens. Their website shares video recordings of lessons, workshops, and garden school activities. Check out the APS School Gardens Team handbookGrowing the Outdoor Classroom, which includes information on the outdoor classroom, planning a school garden, growing basics for plants, and a school garden resource list.  

California Farm to School Program

California Farm to School program integrates multiple core programming: 1. Support for local producers through California grown and food procurement, 2. Integrated nutrition education, and 3. Additional opportunities such as grants, the Budget Act of 2020 and core partnerships.  

Edible Schoolyard Project

The Edible Schoolyard Project focuses on hands-on experiential and educational learning for students by nourishing the relationship to the garden, cafeteria and access to foods.  

Farm to School Alaska

Farm to School Alaska provides information for schools that includes curriculum for educators; support for local producers to access fresh and healthy foods; and resources and opportunities for incorporating Farm to School programs.  

Fueling Georgia’s Future

Fueling Georgia’s Future is an important and integral part of Georgia’s Farm to School program. The program supports communities and students by providing educational hands-on learning, taste testing, curriculum, fields trips, and connections to local producers and entities.  

Indigenous Education Tools

Indigenous Education Tools is part of the Building Capacity & Cultivating Innovation: Learning Agendas in Native Education (BCCI) project. BCCI is designed to develop resources and practices that will have exponential impacts on efforts to improve Native student success across a variety of sectors (e.g. tribal, public education, private, non-profit, higher education).

Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative: Beyond Farm to School – It’s a New Market and Analyzing Opportunities to Sell Food to Institutional Settings

This presentation is part of the University of Arkansas’ Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative series PROFIT: Farm to School and Beyond by Pam Kingfisher (Cherokee/OK), Farm to School Specialist/Consultant, and Analyzing Opportunities to Sell Food to Institutional Settings by Janie Simms Hipp, JD, LLM (Chickasaw), former Director, Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative.

Indigenous STEAM

The ISTEAM collaborative is supporting Indigenous resurgence through (re)making relations with lands, waters, and each other toward just, sustainable, and culturally thriving futures. Their website has beautiful learning activities, tools, and resources.

Kohala Center: Hawai’i Island School Garden Network

The Hawai’i Island School Garden Network hosts farm to school resources that connect to nutrition, curriculum, soil, school gardens, funding opportunities, food safety, bees, vermiculture, and much more 

Montana Beef to School

The Montana Beef to School Project explores how to make beef to school programs successful and encourages the use of local beef in every Montana school. The Montana Beef to School Project is a collaboration with the Montana Beef to School Coalition that is represented by producers, processors and schools.  

National Farm to School Network: Farm to School in Native Communities

The National Farm to School Network is an informational, advocacy and networking hub for communities. Farm to School in Native Communities explores opportunities for expanding new and existing farm to school by developing school menus, gardening, and access to traditional foods.  

New Mexico State University:  Community and School Gardens Extension Resources

The New Mexico State University assists communities with community and school gardens throughout New Mexico. The local extension agents provide resources, tips and best practices in all growing zones.  

Northwest Indian College: Creating Community Gardens

The Northwest Indian College created a multi-step resource guide that helps communities plan, design, and engage community members through hands-on learning in the garden. 

School Gardens Resources for New Mexico: Teaching Resources

This includes an online archive of curriculum, lesson plans and instructional videos compiled by a partnership of garden and community leaders across Albuquerque.  The School Garden Resource Binder includes topics related to gardening, agriculture, ecology, STEAM, art, & culture; local, national and international resources searchable by tab; where to get materials for gardens in Albuquerque; professional development opportunities; places to visit in ABQ and local presenters to invite to your school; new outdoor classrooms and COVID resources. 

Sitka Conservation Society: A Guide to Serving Local Fish in School Cafeterias

Serving wild Alaskan seafood in the school lunch program is a recent development for Sitka and the entire state of Alaska. Fish to Schools, a term coined in Sitka, is an effort to get local fish into school lunches. The goal is to connect youth to their local food system in order for them to understand the impact of their food choices on their health, the economy, and environment.

United Indian Health Services, Inc.

The United Indian Health Services, Inc., has created a sustainable garden program that is committed to the health and overall well-being of the body. In 1999, the Community Nutrition Program (CNP) and Potawot Community Food Garden were established within the Community Health and Wellness Division. The garden has donated thousands of pounds of produce annually to local food banks, tribal youth events, tribal community events, and cultural activities.

University of Minnesota Morris: Eating with the Seasons, Anishinaabeg, Great Lakes Region

Eating with Seasons, Anishinaabeg, Great Lakes Region is filled with recipes that are tied to a specific month. Engagement activities like learning numbers, introducing yourself, and exploring seasons, plants and animals are presented in Anishinaabemowin 

USDA Food and Nutrition Service: Farm to School Resources 

With these resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service aims to reduce hunger for families and help children, individuals and families have access to foods and nutrition education.  

White Earth Land Recovery Project: Indigenous Farm to School Programs – A Guide for Creating a Farm to School Program in an Indigenous Community

This resource guide supports a community needs assessment and the launching and sustaining of a Farm to School program in Indigenous Communities. 

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: American Indian Traditional Foods in USDA School Meals Programs – A Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkit

This Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkit was created to help food service directors identify, procure, and successfully incorporate traditional, healthy foods into their breakfast and lunch programs. It is also a teaching tool to educate those interested in traditional foods about American Indian nations and tribal communities. 

Wyoming Department of Education Farm to School 

Wyoming Department of Education Farm to School program is hosted under the Nutrition Department. The Nutrition Department promotes local foods and local foods education in schools throughout Wyoming.