White Earth Exploring Natural Farming Methods

Nov 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 15-2: Reclaiming Native Health, Tribal College News

White Earth Tribal and Community College (Mahnomen, MN) is developing alternative natural farming methods. The college received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) Tribal College Equity Program. Natural farming has been a long-standing interest of Steve Dahlberg, who heads the project, and he said this study also supports the goal of the college and the Nibi Center to increase reservation self-sufficiency and to preserve the quality of the resource base.

Dahlberg said, “People need to know about the alternatives to conglomerate-controlled farms, and many of the farmers in this area may find viable, sustainable agricultural alternatives by accessing the information acquired through the grant.” Some of the alternative agricultural models are rooted in indigenous practices from around the world, including Anishinaabe traditions.

“Conventional agriculture doesn’t work on the types of land that cover most of White Earth. Why clear trees and fill wetlands to plant corn and soybeans when there are other products growing in the forests and wetlands that are much more valuable?” Dahlberg asked. White Earth Reservation resources that might be better utilized include maple syrup, wild rice, leeches, wild game, black walnuts, ginseng, medicinal plants, hazelnuts, fruits, specialty lumber, and scenery. “Every acre put into any of these other options will create real economic development, greater freedom, and a healthier environment,” he added.

The research grant included several thousand dollars for the tribal college’s library to acquire materials on alternative, natural farming methods. In addition, the grant financed camping gear including sleeping mats, bags, tents, lanterns, a camp kitchen, digital cameras, calculators, a van, and GPS equipment to enable students to conduct field research.

For more details contact Steve Dahlberg at sdahlberg@wetcc.org or call (218) 935-0417.

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