by May Nguyen of Planting Justice
I’ve been working on behalf of Planting Justice with a project called the Indigenous Farming Project (IFP), a tribal agriculture & nutrition pilot program in collaboration with San Francisco artist collective Future Farmers. Inspired by his train travels through the reservation lands, EPA Region 9 director Jared Blumenfeld recognized a common desire for developing food sovereignty projects within native communities and asked Amy Francheschini of Future Farmers to start up a program that would help tribes gain access to the resources they need to build resilient foodsystems on their lands.
Many tribal reservations are geographically isolated and are “food deserts” in which there is very little or no access to healthy fresh foods, (www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert/fooddesert.html). In order to combat this health related epidemic, there has been a resurgence in the number of American Indians and their allies championing a revitalization of traditional food knowledge and ritual farming-and-gardening.
In spring 2012, Anya Kamenskaya, the IFP project manager, started the first IFP-sponsored site with the Environmental Department of the Big Pine Paiute of the Owens Valley. Over the course of the year, as I joined on as a co-project manager and permaculture designer, we were able to work with Alan Bacock, Tony Karl & Sally Manning of the Environmental Department to design & plan an active demonstration community garden on the land of the Big Pine Paiute Tribal Headquarters.