Phone: (641) 484-4678 Toll Free: 1-800-944-9503 Fax: (641) 484-5424


Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative

“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

General Information

(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 sixth 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

See the MFSI 2016 Annual Report HERE!

AdobeStock_66262008Red 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!

Elder’s Garden

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.

14047343_1078903708867647_519442690431473280_oMeskwaki 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 Projects

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 Larry Lasley
Local Foods Planner/Farm Manager Jennifer Vazquez-Koster
Local Foods Coordinator Emma O’Polka
Food & Family Engagement Coordinator  Vacant
Program Assistant Vacant
Garden Assistant Vacant
 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



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