Creating a Tribal Farm
Creating a Tribal Farm
When Fara Ann Brummer of Warm Springs Oregon began her SARE-funded project, Cropland Planning Group, her original intent was for the group to focus on one piece of tribal land and produce a well-thought out plan as an exercise. What happened in addition to this is that the group took on a life of its own through the middle phase of the project and gained immense tribal support to start a farm. The participants of the group viewed the creation of a Tribal Farm as a natural outcome of the project, and they founded the farm with support from Extension and their Tribal Council.
This Western SARE Professional Development Program (PDP) project coordinated the actions of five tribal members from land resource functions and four non-tribal members from the tribal Natural Resource department. Their planning efforts consisted of a review of the historic use of pieces of land, a determination of the best value crops to be grown under existing irrigation, and the creation of a farming schedule. Brummer utilized Western SARE funding for such a group in order to develop a focused effort towards cropland re-development on the Warm Spring Reservation (as the land had been fallow for over 20 years), assemble individuals with an interest and skills in farming to initiate one farming project and develop a workable plan for a farming season.
As the group chose their one piece of prime tribal farmland as their focus, they heard five presentations by Oregon State University Extension specialists and industry representatives on crops that could potentially be grown at Warm Springs, including hay, canola, specialty seed, tree fruit and grapes. The nine members, who were later joined by three additional tribal members and two non-tribal members, also participated on field tours of hay and grapes. Crop budgets were provided as a teaching resource.
With the crop education and budgeting resources as support, the entire group presented their project summary to Tribal Council on May 26, 2010 as a foundation for the start of a Tribal Farm operation. The Tribal Council passed a resolution, with no opposition, to start the Tribal Farm operation under the Tribal branch of Natural Resources and also provided monetary support with their resolution.
A groundbreaking ceremony will occur in December, after which the prime farmland will be prepared for seeding. A hay crop is expected for harvest in 2012.
Brummer says “This project had the type of results that we enjoy seeing as Extension. We provide the tools for learning, and the constituents use the information and make their own decisions about their resources. The tribal members involved in the Cropland Planning Group were the ones that initiated the Tribal Farm through their own decisions and actions.”
Formal evaluations and observation by Brummer demonstrate that in addition to increasing crop planning skills and agriculture knowledge, the participants developed facilitation and leadership skills, all of which led to the unanticipated outcome of a beginning Tribal Farm as quickly as it occurred.
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