“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically, and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.”–Food Sovereignty: A Right for All
(MFSI) is the umbrella name for all the local and traditional food initiatives on the Settlement and is a part of the Economic Development Department. In its seventh year, MFSI has two main focuses:
- Education and outreach around food system control
- Development of sustainable local farms and farmers
MFSI emphasizes the impact of local foods, indigenous foods, and medicines in supporting the health and well-being of our community, while strengthening the economy, healing relationships with the land, and celebrating cultural identity.
Community Based Projects
- The Senior Garden
- The Meskwaki Settlement School garden & programming
- Red Earth Gardens
- Developing cultural curriculum
- Cooking and gardening workshops
- Community meals
- Annual food film festival
- Annual community-based food system information
Red Earth Gardens
MFSI’s largest program, Red Earth Gardens (REG), is a Tribally-owned and operated organic produce farm started in 2013. The farm consists of 40 acres in total, with 4 acres currently in organic vegetable, herb, and flower production, and the remainder in greenhouses, public spaces, and hay production. REG is currently working to expand products and services by developing a 10-acre fruit and nut orchard using permaculture principles, providing workforce development training in the field of tribal agriculture, and building the Tribe’s workforce by increasing year-round and seasonal job opportunities.
Visit our Red Earth Garden site HERE!
The Meskwaki Elder’s Gardens is a half-acre traditional foods plot that yields a variety of produce, but focuses on Meskwaki varieties of corn, beans, and squash. The garden functions as an educational space for MFSI’s hands-on gardening workshop series, as well as a way to ensure fresh, healthy, and culturally relevant foods are provided to Meskwaki community elders through the Meskwaki Senior Food Program. Fresh produce is incorporated into daily meals throughout the growing season, and frozen and canned for the winter. The Elder’s Garden also grows seeds to share with community members.
Meskwaki Settlement School Garden
As part of our Farm-to-School programming, MFSI sponsors a Meskwaki Settlement School Garden. MFSI’s School Garden programming teaches students about the growing process of the food they eat through hands-on learning in the garden. In 2016, MFSI launched a Seed-to-Seed Youth Garden Club in partnership with the Meskwaki Youth Program. With this addition, we have expanded our youth educational programming to more heavily include the topics of seed saving and seed sovereignty. All of the food the students grow and harvest goes back to the school cafeteria to be served in the cafeteria salad bar. When school is not in session, the garden’s bounty is donated to the Senior Food Program to supplement the Elder’s Garden’s harvest.
Other MFSI projects and programming include: Farm-to-School efforts, Meskwaki Settlement School Maple Syrup Camp, creation of a seed library, development of cultural curriculum around food and agriculture, healthy cooking and gardening workshops, seasonal community meals, an annual Food Film Festival, and an overall food sovereignty strategic planning effort.
|Economic Development Director||Stephen Scott (interim)|
|Local Foods Planner/Farm Manager||Jennifer Vazquez-Koster|
|Local Foods Coordinator||Emma O’Polka|
|Food & Family Engagement Coordinator||Regan O’Hanlon|
|Workforce Development Coordinator||Shelley Kapayou|
|Physical Address:||Mailing Address:||Phone: 641.484.9501|
|1496 Hwy 30 Suite 500
Tama, IA 52339
|349 Meskwaki Rd.
Tama, IA 52339