Traditional Foods, Healthy Communities
How do we promote access to healthy foods, income generation, and soil health?
The "Traditional Foods, Healthy Communities" initiative supports cross-cultural, cross-neighborhood collaboration among urban growers in North and South Minneapolis with the overall aim of:
- Increasing awareness of the nutritional benefits of culturally important foods,
- Promoting development of small-enterprises producing, sharing or selling traditional specialty crops and value-added products, and
- Advancing sustainable urban agricultural methods that improve health of soil and water resources.
EJAM -- in collaboration with the Women's Environmental Institute and the Red Lake Anishinabe Youth Group - is working with groups of urban growers ("Grower Groups") to plan and start-up small enterprises selling culturally-specific traditional specialty crops and value-added products. Examples of the kinds of enterprises that might develop include:
- Growing and marketing high nutrition traditional foods,
- A small nursery selling heirloom starter plants and seeds,
- A compost production facility, and
- Processing native flowers and grasses into safe cosmetic products.
Regular community gatherings and workshops provide opportunities for individuals and families to exchange knowledge in sustainable urban agriculture and processing and cooking traditional foods. Young people working with farmers have an integral role in monitoring and improving soil and water quality.
How do communities benefit?
- Share and build knowledge of organic farming methods that improve health of soil microbiology and reduce exposure to soil toxins
- Explore market opportunities for high nutrition and high economic value crops
- Create a business plan and access funding, land and other resources needed for specialty crop enterprise start-up
- Launch specialty crop enterprise and develop skills in management and evaluation and improvement of those enterprises
- Share and build knowledge of how to grow and prepare traditional foods, medicines, and other sacred plants
- Have greater access to healthy foods and medicines
- Have apprenticeship opportunities in community organizing and sustainable urban agriculture
- Learn about the health and other benefits of traditional foods and medicines as well as sustainable, organic ways to grow them
- Conduct soil analysis and monitoring and help organize monthly "Community Food Gatherings" in the summer and fall months
- Learn about careers in sciences
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Project partners include Lydia Women's Empowerment Project, the University of Minnesota Department of Soil and Water, the Little Earth of United Tribe's Resident's Council, the Indigenous Green Jobs Task Force, Kwanzaa Community Church, and the Red Lake Anishinabe Youth Group.
Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, General Mills, and the Otto Bremer Foundation.